Premiership: Worcester Warriors given September 26 deadline to avoid suspension

James While
Worcester Warriors logo at Sixways Stadium.

In the ever-evolving saga of the Worcester Warriors battle for survival and in light of the RFU’s earlier statement today requiring the Club to produce the relevant guarantees to put on the Premiership and Premier 15s games on this weekend, Planet Rugby has had sight of the full details of the correspondence between the RFU and Worcester Warriors owners, Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham.

Said correspondence states clearly the conditions to be met to allow Worcester Warriors to continue playing. The letter states:

“The Club Financial Viability Group, including representatives of both the RFU and PRL, met earlier this morning to review the matter and to further discuss the Club’s ability to host matches at Sixways Stadium, particularly in light of the Premiership game taking place against Newcastle this Saturday 24 September 2022, and for the University of Worcester Warriors to travel to play against Exeter Chiefs Women

“The RFU and PRL remain aware of the need to ensure that requisite medical personnel cover remains in place, as well as the need to ensure that Sixways Stadium will be able to legally host the match this weekend due to wider stadium and health and safety considerations.

“Therefore, the Club Financial Viability Group must continue to balance the need to give the Club the opportunity to put the matches on and obtain revenue, with the need for certainty of all stakeholders. We are aware that Newcastle will be travelling to Worcester during Friday 23 September 2022.

“Therefore, if the Club cannot evidence that all such conditions have been met by noon on Thursday 22 September 2022, because the Club cannot evidence that matches can safely take place at Sixways Stadium, the Men’s Premiership match scheduled for 24 September 2022 will not be permitted to take place at Sixways Stadium (or any other venue) and the match will be considered unfulfilled for the purposes of the Premiership Regulations. Equally the University of Worcester Warriors match against Exeter Chiefs Women will not be permitted to take place and will also be considered unfulfilled.”

The letter goes on to cover, for the first time in detail, the future viability of Worcester Warriors. This includes the distinct possibility of suspension from all RFU competitions if no solution is found by 26th September and in particular, draws attention to the lack of visibility of the identity of any potential suitor.

Suspension from RFU Competitions

“As a separate matter from the Club’s ability to participate in the matches this weekend, the Club Financial Viability Group also discussed the progress of the Club’s situation generally, including in relation to insurance, payroll and the prospect of immediate funding from any purchasers, as well as the future viability of the Club,” the letter continued.

“The RFU and PRL remain particularly concerned about these matters. We understand that the Club’s insurance cover will cease at midnight on the evening of Monday 26 September 2022, and no assurance has been provided in respect of the Club’s ability to meet their outstanding premiums in order to prevent cover from ceasing.

“In addition, we understand that there are still some staff and players who are yet to receive their August salaries in full (with the deadline for September payroll also fast approaching), and the RFU and PRL remain unclear on the identity, viability and reliability of the purchasers who are said to be imminently signing Heads of Terms in relation to a sale of the Club.

“Accordingly (and notwithstanding that we may permit the matches to go ahead this weekend subject to compliance with the above conditions) the Club Financial Viability Group have taken the decision, pursuant to Regulation 6.4, to suspend the Club from all RFU Competitions (for the avoidance of doubt including the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Cup, the Allianz Premier 15s League and Allianz Cup) with effect from 5pm on Monday 26 September 2022 until such time as the Club are able to demonstrate that:

“1. All outstanding insurance premiums have been paid in full, together with documentary evidence to confirm the same to include written confirmation from the Club’s insurers that cover is fully operational across all of the Club’s insurance policies.

“2. All players and staff have been paid their August salaries in full.

“3. The Club have in place a robust and fully financed plan for the future viability of the Club to the satisfaction of the Club Financial Viability Group, to include:

“a. The identity of the proposed purchaser of the Club and the proposed structure for the acquisition of the Club’s business and/or assets.

“b. Details and evidence in respect of proposed cash injections and the terms upon which these are to take place.

“c. Evidence of how the Club intend to meet September payroll in full on or before 30 September 2022.”

Planet Rugby understands that the deadline is 5pm on 26th September, but with the provision that should a purchaser be found pursuant to that deadline. There is the facility to lift the suspension providing all criteria are met.

Goldring and Whittingham were unavailable for comment.

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