Worcester Warriors: Former chief executive Jim O'Toole could save troubled club

A businessman who has put together a consortium to buy Worcester Warriors rugby club says a deal could be done as soon as within the next 24 hours.

He and a former CEO of the club, Jim O'Toole, are having a crunch meeting this evening with the backers in the United States and additional support from Worcester businesses.

Three businessmen from Worcester are also involved in the deal to save the club which has been issued with a winding up order by HMRC over unpaid taxes.

He moved another step forward on Tuesday afternoon after positive conversations with both the American investors and the club’s administrator.

"Things happened quickly over the last 24 hours,” O’Toole said.

"The group on the ground pulled together some thoughts on what a sustainable long-term business plan would look like, using the assets of the club, the land, the stadium etc.“

"Then I had a meeting with my American client this afternoon and they said ‘we’d really like to see if we can help.

"We’d like to be part of that consortium, can you please go ahead and push whatever buttons you need to do to start that process’."

Worcester Warriors are scheduled to play London Irish on 10 September. Credit: PA Images

And after a subsequent meeting with the administrator, O’Toole said: "We now are very clear on what we need to get to the stage where we can get a rapid decision from the stakeholders involved.”

Those stakeholders include the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premiership Rugby and investors CVC Capital Partners, as well as Warriors’ administrators.

Worcester are reportedly on the brink of administration following a winding-up petition over unpaid tax being issued by HM Revenue & Customs last week.

The owners, Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, said they remain in ongoing discussions with HMRC, Premiership Rugby, the RFU and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

While O’Toole wouldn’t directly name the potential US investors, he said they have "multiple interests in sport, but they are a true conglomerate with fingers in many pies and interests in many industries".

Worcester's bosses are 'working through options' with advisors over administration fears Credit: PA images

"They became interested in the Warriors’ situation, he said, when the club’s story came up during a meeting about a separate sports marketing project – simultaneously, O’Toole had been approached by local Worcester businessman asking if there was anything he could do.“It’s a strong commercial proposition,” he said.

O’Toole has not been, as he puts it, “on the ground” with the players facing possible unemployment, but still lives in Worcester and described the mood as “sombre, and very stressful for them and their families.

"And of course the supporters that have supported this club in its current form since 1995."

He added: "It’s very difficult to imagine the city of Worcester without a professional rugby club, knowing what it means to so many people.“

"So if I can help facilitate the change of ownership then that would be a good thing."

Asked if he believed fans will see Warriors on the pitch in their season opener, scheduled for September 10 at London Irish, O’Toole added: "If everything comes together we’ve got a chance."