Premiership: Joint statement issued as rugby chiefs look to strengthen clubs’ financial resilience

Adam Kyriacou
Premiership CEO Simon Massie-Taylor speaks

Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have issued a joint statement following the news that Wasps are likely to enter administration.

The club game in England is reeling at the moment after the former Heineken Cup champions’ news, which comes after Worcester Warriors were relegated.

That’s led to the Premiership season being thrown into disarray after the two clubs were suspended amid financial difficulties which threaten their existence.

Wasps revealed on Wednesday it was now “likely” they would enter administration, having already withdrawn from this week’s game against Exeter Chiefs.

Concerning period for the game

On Thursday, Premiership Rugby and the RFU provided a united front, however, as the future of Wasps and Worcester Warriors is a concern to the sport.

“Following yesterday’s announcement that Wasps are likely to enter administration in the coming days, Premiership Rugby and the RFU will continue to work with the club and, once appointed, the administrator to support ongoing efforts to secure a long-term future for the club,” read a statement from the pair.

“The financial difficulties at Wasps, coming on top of the administration of Worcester Warriors, have further highlighted the need for rugby’s stakeholders to address the broader challenges facing the professional club game.

“Premiership Rugby and the RFU are working together to examine a range of options to provide stronger foundations for the game. This process, involving close consultation with clubs and other stakeholders, includes consideration of issues including the structure of the league and visibility of financial information. Player welfare will remain a priority at all times.”

Very sad day for English rugby

Simon Massie-Taylor, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said: “Yesterday marked a very sad day for English rugby with Wasps, another of our much-loved teams, likely to go into administration. We know this is a desperate time for staff, players, and fans, but all concerned are working tirelessly to find a solution that allows the club to move forward. This is more than a business in difficulty, it’s a community in distress and one that is an integral part of the wider rugby family.

“As well as supporting efforts to find a long-term sustainable future for both Wasps and Worcester Warriors, it is our responsibility to set a more sustainable path for English club rugby. This was on the agenda already, but we need to now accelerate the work we are doing with our clubs, the RFU, and other stakeholders across the game. Our shared goal must be to put in place stronger foundations that underpin the long-term prosperity for the sport in this country.”

RFU CEO Bill Sweeney added: “The news that Wasps is about to go into administration is very sad for English rugby. Like all rugby clubs Wasps has a great history and heritage and one that fans around the world connect with. The men’s and women’s teams have been the home for many great past and present England players.

Difficult economic environment

“Two professional clubs facing financial difficulties is a clear barometer of the challenges being felt by the economy, sport and rugby union specifically. The economic environment has compounded these challenges and there is a clear need for more financial transparency from all clubs together with collective long-term investment and planning for the benefit of the professional game overall.

“Throughout the pandemic, rugby clubs have been beacons of their community, providing much-needed support for the communities they serve. Through adversity comes strength and I am confident that despite the difficulties of professional clubs, rugby will continue to deliver its core community values and welcome new and old members to the game.”

Meanwhile, sports finance expert Kieran Maguire has said that rugby union has been reluctant to address football’s commercial dominance in the country.

The lecturer from the University of Liverpool Management School, told the PA news agency: “Rugby is still a relatively new professional sport and in many aspects it’s being run in an amateur way in terms of cash flow and cost control and governance, all the dull words that get accountants excited.

“I know rugby fans would be upset about rugby being called a minority sport, but football is too successful. It takes too many of the column inches and too much of the broadcasters’ focus, because it delivers in terms of eyeballs.

“That’s a challenge – how does rugby increase its income streams and control costs? I think there’s a reluctance to address that.”

READ MORE: Wasps: Premiership giants pull out of Exeter Chiefs clash and likely to enter administration