Worcester Warriors: Steve Diamond devises plan to buy and rebuild the club based on sustainability, community and innovation

Dylan Coetzee

2K334BT Worcester Warriors Director of Rugby Steve Diamond watches his players during the pre-match warm up, ahead of the Gallagher Premiership match Worcester Warriors vs Newcastle Falcons at Sixways Stadium, Worcester, United Kingdom, 24th September 2022 (Photo by Nick Browning/News Images)

Former Worcester Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond has announced a plan to buy the club and return it to Premiership action in a minimum of three years.

The former Sale boss has teamed up with investors and non-executive directors to form ‘Sixways Village’, an organisation they want to use to buy the club and build it back up.

With Diamond at the helm as chief executive officer, and with former Leicester Tiger supremo Simon Cohen, a seasoned facilitator of mixed used sporting developments and sporting lawyer Mike Blood as non-executive directors, Diamond believes he’s got the dream team to deliver his vision. His investors have not been revealed at this stage, although it is known they are a mix of local investor and international investment experience.

The goal is to create a sustainable business that is well situated within the community, one sweating the enormous land asset that is Sixways, to underpin Worcester’s status as one of the older rugby clubs in England.

Fair punishment

Whilst the situation at the club is not ideal, Diamond accepts relegation and believes sanctions are important to prevent owners from putting clubs into administration and writing debts off.

“I think punishment and sanction is required, and the RFU (Rugby Football Union) have suspended us for this season. It’s probably the right thing to do. As you know, a lot of businesses will just throw in the towel and sign up again, so there has to be some sanction and relegation. I’m prepared to take the relegation,” Diamond said at Zoom press conference.

Diamond is looking to embrace the challenge in the Championship by building a sustainable business model that can change and improve the league going forward. It is more than just a rebuild for the 54-year-old, who wants all clubs to benefit and sees his vision as a template for good practice:

“Going into the Championship, a lot of sides have looked at it as a rebuild. I’m looking at it more than that. I think now’s the time to enhance the Championship. There’s only four clubs spending regularly over a million pounds, and that’s probably at the top end, and none of those clubs currently meet the criteria for a stadium. With Warriors going down there and potentially Wasps, you know we’ve got a real good foothold to be built in that competition over the next two or three years.

“I think the Championship could develop into itself and great competition moving forward,” Diamond said.

Buddy system

To achieve that, Diamond has devised a clever proposition of using a ‘Buddy System’ with Premiership clubs Bath, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers, which will see their fringe players represent Worcester and continue their development.

“Part of that system will create a buddy system with Premiership clubs. I’ve already arranged with three clubs, which we’ll go into further detail if we get the opportunity to bid and buy this business, where their players are not playing at Premiership level come and play for Worcester in a high performance environment, but within the Championship,” Diamond said.

Community is key

‘Sixways Village’ has agreed on a joint venture that will see Worcester maintain the club’s facilities as well as the creation of pathways for male and female players.

The community orientation is what Diamond believes connects him with the club and he recognises the influence the Cecil Duckworth family has had over a quarter of a century – something he is desperate to continue.

“The future of Worcester means part of Cecil’s legacy that I bought into when I arrived on the scene 10 months ago, is continued. For that to go in six weeks is ridiculous. So for me, it’s continuing that legacy programme, making sure that Worcestershire people play for England on a regular basis and maintaining the wider community plan.”

“Credible” plan

The director is adamant about returning the club to where they belong and is hopeful the right decision can be made after receiving positive feedback from RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney who believes the plan appears “credible”. However, Sweeney will meet with Diamond again soon after he returns from New Zealand.

Diamond knows it will take a minimum of three years to get the club back in the Premiership, but he is convinced once the club returns to the top-flight, it will be done in such a way that he could leave and the club could remain there.

“I’ve taken stock of a lot of people from the supporters club to general fans to people who work in the stadium to living the locality myself and this is the first time I’ve been on public record to say what we’re going do,” he said.

“I think a lot of us took a month to put the plan together, where we presented last week to the RFU and PRL and then the administrators – and I think now we need a decision to be made, hopefully that decision is for the right organisation to not only take hold of it, but to get Warriors back on the map.

“It will take us two or three, maybe four years to do that. But when they do come back to the Premiership, I reckon I could walk away and they’ll stay there. And that’s what we need. It will truly be a case for me, of saying, I left this place in a far better position than when I found it,” Diamond said.

Diamond is clearly passionate about the club and about the area, so much so that he has built an entire prospective structure based on sustainability, community and innovation. Should this go ahead, not only will the club and the area benefit but also possibly the Championship, which will provide a solid base for the future of English rugby.

READ MORE: England: Ben Youngs hails Ellis Genge leadership as captaincy talk gathers momentum