Wasps have 10 days to secure vital investment or face entering administration after the club filed a second notice of intention to appoint administrators.
With time running out for the financially stricken Premiership club to secure further investment, a statement from Wasps Holdings Limited on Tuesday confirmed that discussions around potential investors and funders are "now at an advanced stage" but that the step of a second notice was taken to buy time and "allow negotiations on the club's long-term future to continue".
On Sep 21, Wasps sent shockwaves through English rugby as they filed their first notice to appoint an administrator after being threatened by HMRC with a winding-up petition over a £2 million repayment, with the West Midlands club also owing £35m to bondholders after they invested to help purchase the Coventry Building Society Arena seven years ago.
Wasps had 10 days from the first notice being filed to find investment - or risk being sued by creditors - but that 10-day window will now reset from Wednesday after the filing of their second notice.
A spokesperson for Wasps Holdings Limited said: “Wasps Holdings Limited has today filed a second notice of intention to appoint administrators. This step has been taken to allow negotiations on securing its long-term future to continue and protect the interests of the group.
“Since filing the original notice of intention on Sep 21, a number of additional potential investors and funders have come forward. Discussions are now at a relatively advanced stage, and we remain hopeful of securing a deal that will allow the group, and the entities that sit within it, to move forward.
“We would like to thank all stakeholders for their engagement during this process, and in particular the constructive support and approach provided by the RFU and PRL. This will continue to be vitally important as negotiations with interested parties proceed and we remain in regular dialogue with both organisations.
“While the financial circumstances facing the group are extremely challenging, we remain optimistic about a positive outcome and will keep our players, staff, supporters, partners, bond holders and suppliers updated as this process moves forward.”
Meanwhile, players and staff from Worcester Warriors face being made unemployed as of around 10.30am on Wednesday. WRFC Players Ltd, the company that pays the organisation’s wages, is likely to go into liquidation following when a winding-up petition is heard by the high court. Players will be free to sign for other clubs at that point.
Four of them, Ollie Lawrence, Ted Hill, Valery Morozov and Fergus Lee-Warner, have already joined Bath on loan. Rob Baxter, the director of rugby at Exeter Chiefs, predicted that more would follow “over the next couple of weeks” with clubs entitled to £400,000 of injury credits as part of the salary cap. Alex Sanderson has “a tiny bit” of space left under the cap. However, he raised one potential fall-back to adding Worcester players.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries and some bad ones through pre-season, so there is a necessity for numbers going through the autumn internationals,” said Sanderson, the Sale Sharks director of rugby, whose side are second on the Premiership table.
“The caveat to that is that if it is going well, and it is going well, do you want to rock the boat? If we do get some of these lads on a short-term loan and [Worcester] get through administration, they take all that intellectual property with them towards Christmas.
“You have to really consider these things and the knock-on effects, not just [take] what is bright and shiny right now.”
Premiership Rugby have already cancelled Worcester’s matches against Gloucester and Harlequins and there have been fears that relegation to the Championship would follow as soon as Wednesday.
The Times have reported that Premiership Rugby Limited was weighing up whether or not to buy Worcester’s ‘P share’ off them. This would free up funds to pay off debts but would also mean that Warriors would not be entitled to central funding.