MPs to hold inquiry over financial collapse of Worcester Warriors and Wasps

MP's to hold inquiry with English governing bodies following Warriors and Wasps administration Credit: PA Images

MPs will quiz rugby union's governing bodies after two Premiership clubs - Worcester Warriors and Wasps - suffered financial collapse simultaneously.

The bosses of Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union will meet on Thursday at the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

They'll discuss whether more financial oversight of the game, and of club owners, is needed.

When will MPs meet the English governing bodies and who will be there?

They will meet on Thursday 24 November 2022.

  • Robin Walker Conservative MP, Worcester

  • Carol Hart, Chief Executive, Worcester Warriors Foundation

  • Bill Sweeney OBE, Chief Executive, Rugby Football Union

  • Simon Massie-Taylor, Chief Executive, Premiership Rugby Limited

  • Judith Batchelar OBE, Chief Executive, Rugby Players Association

What might be discussed?

The Committee is likely to ask whether more financial oversight is needed to prevent financial mismanagement and rising debts.

The RFU’s cumulative losses since 2012 have been £73 million.

Witnesses may be asked whether English rugby should adopt the more transparent model used by the French leagues.

The RFU’s regulation of ownership may be considered. At the time of its collapse, Worcester was partially owned by Colin Goldring, who was previously sanctioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

MPs may also examine the likelihood of Wasps and Worcester returning to the Premiership and whether the clubs will retain their “P” shares in the league.

Why is the meeting taking place?

The meeting comes after both Worcester Warriors and Wasps entered administration this year.

Worcester’s debts totalled over £25 million, including at least £6 million in unpaid tax, while the Wasps Group was over £100 million in debt before the club was placed into administration.

Worcester Warriors entered administration on September 26 Credit: PA Images

Worcester Warriors:

The Warriors are saddled with more than £25million of debt, and players and staff at the club had not received their full wages, with the lack of funds leading to major operational shortcomings.

The club was on the brink of administration in August and a winding up petition had been issued to the club by HMRC over an unpaid tax bill of £6 million.

The sum was loaned to Worcester during the pandemic to help with the rising cost of living and lost income from Covid-19.

Towards the end of August, non-playing staff were told they would only receive a 'portion' of their monthly salary.

They were paid just 65%.

Warriors fans were then given a glimmer of hope as the club announced it had "agreed the terms of the sale of the club" to an undisclosed buyer on 13 September.

But less than two weeks later, on Monday 26 September, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced it had placed the club into administration and the Warriors were suspended from all competitions with immediate effect.

Wasps entered administration on October 17 Credit: PA Images


Wasps were placed into administration on Monday 17 October, following in the footsteps of Worcester Warriors.

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

Premiership clubs are struggling because of 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.

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.