Ex-Worcester chief executive Jim O’Toole among consortium taking over Warriors
A consortium that includes former Worcester chief executive Jim O’Toole has been announced as the Warriors’ new owners.
Worcester Warriors entered administration earlier this season, resulting in their expulsion from the Gallagher Premiership.
Administrators Begbies Traynor say they can now progress the sale “following a complex process”.
O’Toole and his business partner James Sandford have had their bid accepted by the administrators with Atlas Worcester Warriors now set to take over the running of the club.
Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Following a complex process, we are now able to progress the sale of Worcester Warriors and associated assets to Atlas Worcester Warriors Rugby Football Club Limited (“Atlas”).
“We can confirm that contracts have been exchanged with Atlas.
“This is an exclusive contractual position, and Atlas are committed to completing this transaction as early as possible and will share with both the rugby community and local community their plans for the club’s future.
“Due to the confidential nature of this transaction, we have been unable to provide this update any earlier but have appreciated the ongoing interest of supporters, staff and related organisations.
“We are delighted to see that there is a clear plan in place to deliver both rugby and many other exciting community-focused initiatives to Sixways, befitting the fabulous facilities and which will entertain the extensive support base.”
In December, Atlas saw a bid rejected on the grounds of its refusal to meet conditions set by the Rugby Football Union to rejoin English rugby’s league structure.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the RFU said it had informed the administrators of WRFC Trading Limited (the main operating entity of Worcester Warriors RFC) that it had until February 14 to conclude negotiations and provide evidence they had met relevant conditions that were set.
𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘 🗞 The RFU has given Wasps and Worcester Warriors a deadline of 𝟭𝟰 𝗙𝗲𝗯𝗿𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆 to provide evidence of meeting conditions to enable participation in next year's Championship.
Full statement below 📃
— Championship Rugby (@Champrugby) February 1, 2023
“The proposed buyers of Worcester Warriors had informed the RFU that they were not prepared to meet the conditions set, which included commitments not to dispose of land around Sixways Stadium without approval, and were unable to satisfy the RFU of the sources and sufficiency of funding,” the RFU said.
“The RFU was not able to confirm the suitability of the prospective owners. Therefore, the RFU board was unable to approve their application.
“If that position changes within the deadline, the RFU will be able to reconsider whether the application can be approved, but if not, then unfortunately the RFU decision will remain the same.”
Wasps, meanwhile, also went into administration earlier this term, and hope to play in the Championship next season under new owners.
The RFU added: “In the case of Wasps, the RFU board conditionally approved the takeover, but not all the conditions set have yet been met, including the lodging of a bond and the signing of an agreement which commits the new club to the relevant conditions.
“Both would need to be done by the deadline for the approval to remain in place.”
On its new February 14 deadline, the RFU said: “This is a significant extension to the original mid-December timeline to provide the clubs with the best possible chance of being in the Championship next year.
“However, a final deadline must be set to provide certainty to the Championship and National League clubs, players and other rugby stakeholders over the format of next season.”