Premiership: Rob Baxter defends RFU over its treatment of Wasps and Worcester Warriors

David Skippers
Rob Baxter Exeter Chiefs Premiership 2022 - PA.jpg

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter.

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has jumped to the defence of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) over the governing body’s treatment of Wasps and Worcester Warriors and asked what other punishment the two beleaguered clubs could have expected.

The Premiership is in the midst of a catastrophe after Wasps joined Worcester on Monday as the second team to go into administration which meant all the Coventry-based outfit’s 167 players and staff’s were dismissed from the club.

Relegation looms

Like Worcester, Wasps were already suspended from the tournament and as things stand both club will be relegated from English rugby’s top flight, which will make it more difficult to find a prospective buyer.

On Monday night, an interested party, Terminum Capital, pulled out of the race to buy Wasps after they were informed the Premiership outfit’s P share, which were allocated to clubs in 2005, would not be included in any purchase.

HM Revenue and Customs issued Wasps with a winding-up order totalling £2million in unpaid tax and they must also repay a £35m bond which helped with the financing of their move to Coventry in 2014.

Baxter, whose team had to play against Wasps last weekend, said: “People have got to remember when you say is it right the stance the RFU are taking or PRL (Premiership Rugby Limited), I think the one bit that surprises me that hasn’t been reported is what is the alternative?

“Because what is the alternative? The alternative is that a business, a rugby club in the Premiership, can go into administration, can organise a pre-pack with somebody so they don’t lose their position in the Premiership, they don’t lose their P shares and they wipe their debts.

“Are we saying that is what we should have done because that seems to be suggested because if that is the truth, then why doesn’t every club in the Premiership that has got debts organise a pre-pack with an administrator, go into administration, keep their P shares, keep everything that is going to be of value, and wipe the debts of everyone they owe money to?

“Because if you do it for one club, you are saying that is the right thing to do. That is what surprises me about this argument around the P-share allocation.”

Earlier this week, RFU chairman Tom Ilube was adamant that everything will be done to give Wasps “the best chance of long-term survival” but other Premiership clubs are believed to be in similarly perilous positions.

It is partly behind why officials from Premiership Rugby and the RFU will face a parliamentary committee in November to answer questions about the financial situation of the league.

“I feel very much for all the people involved at Wasps and Worcester but that is a totally different argument,” Baxter insisted.

“How can Premiership Rugby run a business that says it is okay to run into multiple administrations every time you run into debt?

“We would have no confidence in the business, no confidence in the TV deal and why would a sponsor ever come in to run a rugby club where in theory once you feel like it you can go into administration and wipe your debt.

Rules are rules

“There has to be some repercussions and that is why those rules were put in place. Those rules were put in place at the start so we couldn’t as businesses do exactly that – we couldn’t just wipe our debts and start again with no repercussions.

“That is why I am really surprised there seems to be such a big argument about it. For me it seems the most common sense thing that it has to be a fundamental rule. I can’t get my head about the argument with the P shares.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Wasps have been placed in administration