Why are Worcester Warriors in trouble and what will happen next?

The Warriors are saddled with more than £25million of debt

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Worcester Warriors’s future hangs by a thread after a company which holds the club’s players’ contracts was wound up, effectively leaving the stricken club with no players.

Here we look at the Warriors’ plight.

Why are Worcester in trouble?

The Warriors are saddled with more than £25million of debt. Players and staff at the Sixways club had not received their full wages, with the lack of funds leading to major operational shortcomings. Owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring insisted that a deal was close to being completed with new buyers, but no evidence of that deal has yet been produced.

What is the latest development?

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On Wednesday, Judge Nicholas Briggs made an order winding up WRFC Players Ltd at an Insolvency & Companies Court hearing. Worcester had been suspended from all competitions in September after they failed to meet a Rugby Football Union deadline requesting proof of insurance cover and funding for the club’s monthly payroll. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also confirmed the club had been placed into administration.

What does that mean for the club?

The latest development is expected to initiate an exodus of players from Sixways as Warriors players and staff will have their contracts terminated. “This is the darkest day for English rugby,” Worcester rugby director Steve Diamond wrote on Twitter. “We thought we could turn the tanker around but it’s ended up like the Titanic, sadly. The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen. The RFU/PRL band played in the background. There are a privileged few who have jobs.”

What happens next?

The RFU said on Wednesday that it will continue to speak to the administrators, and potential buyers, during the course of the next 24 hours to assess the possibility of a buyer taking over in time for the team to participate in the Gallagher Premiership in 2022-23.

Why are so many Premiership clubs struggling?

The pandemic’s impact cannot be ignored, but Worcester cannot hide behind Covid as a catch-all excuse. Rising wages for top players and coaches, despite salary-cap curbs, a constant contest to lure in punters and continued battles to boost match excitement are all major factors.

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So where does English club rugby go from here?

Sustainability will be a major watch-word for the coming weeks and months. The authorities will do everything to avoid Worcester going to the wall. But the wider argument over the Premiership’s best long-term plan will rage on.

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