Worcester Warriors bosses 'working through options' as they discuss club's future
Worcester Warriors players and staff might be seeking new jobs as club is on the brink of administration.
It comes as a "disappointing" winding-up petition has been issued to the club by HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) over an unpaid tax bill.
The sum, which was loaned to the Worcester during the pandemic, was to help with challenges faced by the club, such as the rising cost of living as well as lost income from Covid-19 lockdowns and games played from behind closed doors.
Club owners are in discussions about the future of the Warriors - which will be revealed to the players and staff tomorrow (23 August).
The club said: "There have been unavoidable delays beyond the club’s control to the final tasks required to complete the funding.
"Having kept HMRC fully apprised of the situation, we are disappointed that they have taken the decision to issue a winding-up petition."
A statement from Worcester Warriors Owners, Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, said: "Over the past week a lot of work has been done away from the media spotlight to try to navigate the club through the challenges that we currently face.
"That work continues, discussions are on-going and we are reviewing the options available to the club.
"We continue to work closely with HMRC, Premiership Rugby, the RFU and DCMS to find the best solution to the situation.
"We are now working through a number of options with our advisors," Goldring and Whittingham explained.
"These include solutions for keeping rugby at Sixways and we will communicate further as soon as a decision has been finalised.
"We also greatly appreciate the messages of concern and support that we have received from across the rugby world and the wider sporting community."
If the Worcester players and staff are not paid by end of the month with the club in administration they will, effectively, be out of contract and could sign for other clubs.
The current squad includes British and Irish Lions pair Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland, as well as England internationals Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence - who are attractive potential signings for other Premiership clubs.
The Warriors’ opening Gallagher Premiership game of the season is currently scheduled for 10 September against London Irish.
However the outcome of today's discussions could mean the Premiership reverts back to having 12 teams.
In reaction to the news, Ollie Lawrence tweeted: "I have nothing but respect for the whole players and staff for continuing to pitch up everyday with all this uncertainty…
"The rumour mill will continue, but it’s above us now as to what happens, but for now we’ll crack on as a team and wait to see what unfolds…"
Other locals and supporters are showing their support for the rugby team.
Locals in Worcester react to the news that the Premiership Rugby club could be going into administration tomorrow (23 August)
In the statement from the club, Worcester said: "Worcester, along with many other businesses and most sports clubs, have found the past two years extremely challenging owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in the cost of living.
"We retained our staff but lost income during the various lockdowns, during which the overwhelming majority of matches were played behind closed doors."
The club returned to 'normal' 12 months ago, carrying a tax liability to HMRC.
Worcester say they have been working "closely and openly" with the government agency on a plan to clear the liabilities, which is why they were disappointed to be issued the petition.
The statement continued: "The club owners and board are fully committed to preserving top-flight professional rugby in Worcester and have been working on solutions to secure the financial future of Worcester Warriors and to pay outstanding tax owed to HMRC.
"We have also been in communication with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Premiership Rugby and the RFU (Rugby Football Union) regarding this matter."
A HMRC spokesperson said: "We take a supportive approach to dealing with customers who have tax debts, working with them to find the best possible solution based on their financial circumstances."