Worcester owners hit back at call for MPs administration

Sixways first hosted Premiership rugby for Worcester Warriors in 2004

Worcester Warriors owners say going into administration would have “disastrous implications”.

Five Worcestershire MPs have urged the government to place the struggling Premiership club into administration.

But owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham said they were “disappointed” by the deputies’ statement.

“Avoiding administration is in the interests of the club’s creditors, not to mention its players and staff,” Whittingham and Goldring said.

Robin Walker, in whose constituency Sixways is located, Harriett Baldwin, Rachel Maclean and Mark Garnier issued a statement on Monday morning saying they had called on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to take action . [DCMS].

But Walker told BBC Hereford & Worcester their calls are now also backed by former Cabinet member Sajid Javid, the MP for neighboring Bromsgrove, who “fully supports this approach”.

The only county MP not included is Mid Worcestershire’s Nigel Huddleston, the DCMS minister, who cannot have a say in the Warriors crisis, in case it could be seen to conflict with his ministerial responsibilities.

The Premiership, England’s rugby elite, have agreed the Warriors can start the new season – and Warriors owners say late payments to staff for their August salaries have now been sorted.

But the club, which has been owned by Whittingham and Goldring as of December 2018 still face a winding-up petition from HMRC, which owes over £6million, along with a long list of other creditors – and they have been kept going through the Covid pandemic thanks to a loan £14million for the Sports Survival Package.

There has been talk of potential new owners, but a consortium, involving former Warriors general manager Jim O’Toole, is depends on the administration of the club, which would imply an immediate automatic deduction of 35 points.

“We would like to make it clear that we have kept DCMS fully informed of the financial situation of Worcester Warriors,” Whittingham and Goldring said. said in a statement.external link

“They are aware of the options that are on the table to save the club as well as the dire implications posed to the club by any administration.

“DCMS is aware that three groups of buyers are in discussion with us. All three buyers are serious offers and any deals considered would save the club from going into administration. One of the buyers is moving at a particularly rapid pace.”

They added: “Pursuing an agreement that includes payment of all creditors as well as working capital best serves the club and the local community.

“Forcing the Worcester Warriors into administration when these MPs have asked for it risks the club losing its players and staff, losing its P [Premiership] hand, erasing debt owed to local businesses and HMRC, and incurring stiff RFU penalties. »

MP Robin Walker has represented Worcester, in which Sixways Stadium is located, since 2010
MP Robin Walker has represented Worcester, in which Sixways Stadium is located, since 2010

The latest statement from local MPs follows a statement last week in which they called on the club to “focus on protecting its elite rugby status” and made it clear that development at Sixways and its surroundings “will only be supported if it supports sporting and community goals”. “.

They now say that the DCMS must “trigger an administration as quickly as possible”.

MP for Worcester Walker said: “That’s enough. I wanted to give every chance to find a solution that would save the club from going into administration, but it’s now clear that’s not in sight.”

Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said: “With great regret the appalling mismanagement of the club under the current owners means that I must support this difficult decision to place the club in administration. It now appears to be the only way forward. .

Maclean, MP for Redditch, said: “The future of the Warriors is vital throughout the county, including in my constituency, I know the immense affection and respect in which they are held. Securing their future is vital for us. all. “

Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest, said: “The immense legacy of Cecil Duckworth, the Warriors, must be protected. I join my fellow Worcestershire MPs in calling for action to protect this wonderful asset to our county. as fast as possible.”

“We understand that we are under scrutiny and that our actions are in question,” the owners added. “Our best response to that is to stay focused and devote all of our time and energy to getting the best deal for the club, its players, its staff, its partners, its sponsors and its creditors down the line – and that is what we continue to do.”

The Warriors are set to kick off the new Premiership season – their 17th in the top flight – with a trip to the London Irish on Saturday.

But it’s unclear who director of rugby Steve Diamond will have to pick from several Warriors players asked to be released from their contracts last week, for the late payment of their wages.

Worcester owners hit back at call for MPs administration

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