Warriors players try to quit over unpaid wages

Worcester Warriors are still due to start the new Premiership season at London Irish on September 10

Several Worcester Warriors players have handed in their notices over ‘breach of contract’ issues, following their salaries still not being paid.

On a day when Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond attended the Premiership media launch in London, it was confirmed that Worcester would start the season as scheduled on September 10.

But BBC Hereford & Worcester were told no wages had been paid.

This despite assurances from owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring.

They insisted players would receive their August wages at midnight Wednesday, while non-playing staff would receive 65% of their wages on Thursday.

The club have yet to comment publicly, but staff have been told a bank is blocking money transfers.

On Monday, Warriors flanker Kyle Hatherall informed the club that he was terminating his contract, abiding by a clause in the event of unpaid wages.

Hatherall’s agent John Andress of Edge Rugby Management Limited, who also represents four other Warriors players, said the club are currently not releasing registration details of their players.

“They refuse to accept his release,” he told BBC Hereford & Worcester. “Our legal team is currently reviewing it.”

Andress, whose other Warriors contracted players are all considering their position, says Whittingham and Goldring have “mismanaged” the players – and his agency is now taking the matter up with the Rugby Football Union.

The Warriors did not respond to interview requests from BBC Hereford & Worcester, who also contacted four other agents.

Together they say they collectively owe the club just under £300,000, while Andress says her clients owe £70,000.

Warriors have a budget for the ‘next three months’

The Warriors, who have received a winding-up petition from HMRC over unpaid tax estimated at more than £6m, are due to start the new Premiership season at London Irish on September 10 – with a home opener eight days later against Exeter.

And Diamond insists that, for now, the Exiles game is his only target.

Speaking at the annual press launch in London, as the Premiership celebrates 25 years since its launch, he told BBC Radio Five Live: “I have my job to do, which is to motivate the team , namely to prepare them for the London Irish.

“I don’t see us in the same position in five weeks.

“We overcame that hurdle – which we apparently did – and it was traumatic and anxious for a lot of people, but it happens in other businesses and in other areas of life, and we just have to keep going. . .”

Steve Diamond first joined Sixways last November as a consultant before taking over when coach Jonathan Thomas was sacked in January.
Steve Diamond first joined Sixways last November as a consultant before taking over when coach Jonathan Thomas was sacked in January.

“There is a budget that has been put in place for the next three months. We can race as we always have.

“On the pitch we have a great group of guys who are going to be more resilient after this episode. And the message is ‘stay with us’. I’m in the same boat.

“Communication is improving. It is better to be direct and honest than not. It will serve Worcester in the future.

“A few players have asked their agents to call me, but there aren’t many jobs. English clubs all have salary caps, and French clubs can only accept medical jokers.”

“This could be the greatest thing that has ever happened”

As for how Diamond thinks everything will play out, he has some sympathy for the owners who brought him in as a consultant last fall before handing him full charge when current head coach Jonathan Thomas was fired in January.

“They had an unfair press and a fair press,” he said. “What I will say is that they were very direct with me and I tried to convey that honestly to the staff and the players.

“I don’t think time is a problem, but I think it would be foolish for them to keep doing this every month. We need a solution.

“I don’t know if the solution is the current solution on how rugby clubs get it wrong because none of them seem to be making money, Worcester are just the first to be exposed to the fragilities of professional sport.

“To me, this could be the greatest thing that has ever happened to Worcester. Because the resilience that these young lads and the staff on and off the pitch have acquired over the past month, you haven’t been able to make come to a consultant to teach you that.

“It’s a process you have to go through in life, and as sports people you don’t go through it often.

“In hard times, as Sir Winston Churchill said, when you’re headed for hell, you have to keep working. If you can get through it, then great, and I think we will.”

Warriors players try to quit over unpaid wages

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