Wasps: What next for the Coventry-based club as administration confirmed

Wasps has officially been placed into administration. Credit: PA

English rugby’s flagship domestic competition is in meltdown as Wasps have become the second Premiership club forced into administration in three weeks.

The financially troubled club confirmed on Monday that Andrew Sheridan and Rajnesh Mittal of FRP were appointed administrators of Wasps Holdings Limited.

The club have immediately ceased trading.

The announcement comes just days after Wasps were suspended from the Gallagher Premiership.

Wasps' position - which follows the part liquidation of Worcester Warriors - raises questions about financial sustainability in the professional game.

What does the administration mean?

Wasps Holdings Limited is the holding company for Wasps men’s and women’s rugby teams, and Wasps netball. The company has ceased trading with immediate effect.

Arena Coventry Limited and IEC Experience Limited, which operate the businesses at Coventry Building Society Arena, are not in administration and continue to trade as normal.

All future Wasps matches will be cancelled and therefore match tickets, season tickets and hospitality packages cannot be honoured.

Wasps is unable to provide any refunds, it has confirmed.

Administrators have urged ticket holders: "If you paid by credit or debit card, you may be able to get your money back by claiming a refund from your card issuer."

What does this mean for players and staff?

The administrators FRP said that 167 employees have been made redundant, including all members of the playing squads and coaching staff.

The club has fielded some of England’s most well-known players during rugby union’s professional era.

The 2003 World Cup-winning England squad included five Wasps players – Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey, Stuart Abbott, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley.

Why are Wasps in trouble?

The twice-European champions are saddled with debt, which run to tens of millions of pounds.

The club's fall from grace began when it relocated from its London home to the Coventry Building Society Arena, running up debts of £35 million.

Wasps Holdings Limited have twice filed notice to get insolvency experts in to help, revealing talks were at “a relatively advanced stage” with possible investors in the face of a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs for £2million in unpaid tax.

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is understood to be one of those interested parties.

The club also face having to repay a £35m bond which helped finance its relocation to Coventry in 2014.

What happens next?

There is hope among some of the front-runners for a takeover that the RFU's “no-fault insolvency” clause could be invoked - meaning Wasps could avoid relegation.

This is not necessarily a far-fetched conclusion considering how brutally the revenues of Premiership clubs were ravaged during the Covid pandemic.

The (RFU) said on Wednesday it will continue to speak to administrators, potential buyers and Premiership Rugby in order to “find the best possible outcome for the club”.

Coventry Building Society Arena is the home of Wasps Rugby Club. Credit: PA

Will events still happen at the Arena in Coventry?

The only events which are cancelled as the result of the administration are Wasps matches. The administration of Wasps does not impact:

  • Coventry City FC ticket holders and hospitality packages

  • Rugby League World Cup ticket holders and hospitality packages

  • Conference and event bookings

  • Hotel bookings

  • Music event ticket holders

Why are so many clubs in the Premiership struggling?

Rising wages for top players and coaches, despite salary-cap curbs, a constant contest to lure in punters and continued battles to boost match excitement are all major factors.

The authorities will do everything to avoid Wasps going to the wall. But the wider argument over the Premiership’s best long-term plan will rage on.