Worcester director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted following his side’s battling defeat to Exeter that the future of the crisis-hit Warriors remains in serious doubt.
The financially-strapped club met Friday’s deadline to be allowed to fulfil this fixture by the skin of their teeth but Diamond warned that a line had to be drawn somewhere.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has said it will continue to work with Worcester’s owners regarding funding and potential takeover proposals with debts spiralling as high as £25million and many players and staff yet to receive their full August salaries.
Diamond said after Sunday’s 36-21 defeat to Exeter at Sixways: “I don’t know how long we can keep going with this as I’ve been informed that negotiations are taking place behind the scenes but I’m not party to them.
“In the professional era, no director of rugby should be required to deal with such a situation as the players haven’t been paid their August salaries.
“There are limits to how many times players or staff can turn out on goodwill without being paid and it’s impossible for anyone to work without any internet and heating with winter around the corner.
“We are hoping to fulfil the fixture with Gloucester on Wednesday. We wanted to bring in a few loan players but at present we can’t afford to pay the RFU the appropriate sum.
“I’m hoping the money we’ve taken today can be used and not disappear down a black hole as we are on the never-never at the moment.
“Realistically I don’t know how long we can keep going for with the winding-up application due in late September, a line has to be drawn somewhere.”
Despite their off-field troubles, Worcester played with huge commitment against Exeter but the Chiefs always had the edge.
The visitors scored five tries to claim victory, with Richard Capstick grabbing a brace and Olly Woodburn, Jack Maunder and Joe Simmonds also crossing.
Alex Hearle, Gareth Simpson and Ollie Lawrence touched down in reply for Worcester but it was not enough to prevent the Warriors slumping to a second successive defeat this season.
Diamond said: “I’m very proud as it was a huge-hearted performance but the players will still get a b*****king as we conceded 16 penalties, lost half our line-outs and scored from only three of our 10 incursions into their 22.
“Despite all the off-field hullabaloo, we need to be better than that.”
Warriors skipper Francois Venter added: “What’s going on in the background is mentally tough but hopefully it will get sorted. We still don’t know the position but it will be very upsetting if it’s our last game on this pitch.”
Exeter’s victory leaves them with two wins from two this season and, despite always appearing to hold the upper hand, Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher insists they always knew it would be difficult.
He said: “At the start of the day, we knew the game would be tough as they would be very high on motivation.
“We did things right in the first half but we then went off-script before bouncing through it to get the tries when we needed them.
“Their crowd was fantastic and we hope things work out for them as we love coming here as it’s always a competitive game.”