Doubts emerge over Worcester Warriors takeover as Atlas Group look to revive stricken club
Worcester’s new owners are yet to transfer the full funds to complete the stricken Sixways club’s takeover.
Jim O’Toole has seen his Atlas Group’s purchase signed off by administrators, but the consortium is yet to complete the financial transaction, several sources with knowledge of the situation told Standard Sport.
The Atlas takeover of Worcester was confirmed as sealed by administrators Begbies Traynor on Wednesday, but fresh doubts have since been raised over O’Toole and partner James Sandford’s ability to revive the folded Midlands club.
If Atlas cannot deliver the funds to complete their takeover, then Worcester could be put up for sale again, with former rugby director Steve Diamond still interested with his rival consortium bid.
Worcester fell into administration in September, dropping out of the Gallagher Premiership.
Former Warriors chief executive O’Toole has promised the return of top-level rugby in the city but Worcester may yet not return as a rugby club.
Administrator Julie Palmer of Begbies Traynor refused to be drawn on the details of Atlas’ continued takeover.
“We’re just in the mechanics of the contractual position at the moment, which is something we would not comment on,” Palmer told Standard Sport.
Atlas representative O’Toole was contacted by Standard Sport for comment.
The Atlas Group refused to meet RFU criteria for Worcester to reform in the second-tier Championship next season.
The Warriors’ only route to a relaunch therefore could yet be to start from the foot of the grassroots pyramid, a move that O’Toole has previously ruled out.
Wasps have struck a three-year deal to play at Worcester’s Sixways ground next season, but that agreement would evaporate should the Atlas Group fail to cement their ownership.
Wasps owner Chris Holland is understood to have loaned £1.15million to Atlas, in a short-term deal, with both parties insisting that arrangement was purely to secure the Sixways lease.
Wasps folded in October, amid a bleak season for the Premiership and English club rugby.
Former director Holland has taken control and Wasps have satisfied RFU requirements that would allow the decorated club to reform in the second-tier Championship next season.
Wasps will walk away from the Worcester deal if Atlas cannot quickly ratify their position however, and can yet strike a groundshare agreement with Solihull Moors for next term.
Wasps have applied to the RFU for permission to play at Sixways next season, with RFU bosses expected to make a ruling towards the end of the month.