Steve Diamond ‘100 per cent confident’ struggling Worcester will finish season

Steve Diamond is convinced Worcester will complete the season after it was confirmed that the financially-stricken club will participate in the opening weekend of the Gallagher Premiership.

HM Revenue & Customs have frozen the Warriors’ finances in their pursuit of unpaid tax and it was only confirmed on Wednesday that they would be able to meet the August payroll due that same day.

As of Thursday evening only a number of staff had received their wages because of a complication with the bank’s computer system, but for now the prospect of an exodus out of Sixways has receded as the club have up to 14 days to pay their wages even if a player indicates he wants to leave.

Diamond, Worcester’s director of rugby, earlier explained the delay on the grounds the money was being sent from another account due to the freeze implemented by HMRC.

Premiership Rugby has cleared the Warriors to take part in their opener against London Irish on September 10, with a caveat from chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor that “they are not out of the woods yet, let’s be frank about that”.

Advanced talks are being held with two buyers for the club and despite the large debts that have been accrued in the wake of the pandemic, the prospect of gate receipts boosting the balance sheet has improved the financial outlook.

Diamond believes that with players now receiving assurances they would be paid, Worcester will go on to finish the season.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that will happen,” Diamond said at the launch of the 2022-23 Premiership campaign at Twickenham.

“I’m pretty sure that this short-term relief will now stay. If we do manage to get through this, then money does start coming in through the turnstiles.

Worcester Warriors
Worcester play London Irish on September 10 (David Davies/PA)

“We will definitely play the game at London Irish – we will be going on our own coach, no one will be making their own way, we won’t be going by bike.”

Referencing Worcester’s disrupted build-up which has seen the cancellation of their only friendly against Glasgow on Friday, Diamond said: “It might be revolutionary – you don’t play four pre-season games ahead of the season and we could upset the apple cart!

“I am not trying to be joyous but the players have got a very good mentality about them. Are we as prepared as some of the other teams? Possibly not, but as we know it’s a 40-week season.”

Diamond took a swipe at previous Worcester regimes saying Sixways has been run “as a rich man’s toy” and rounding on “big name players and coaches who haven’t really delivered”, producing poor results while operating on “rock-star budgets”.

“They’ve always had this sort of also-ran tag but paying superstar money. Since I’ve come in, that has radically changed,” Diamond said.

“They’re a hard-working group now, but they see how delicate it is and they see it’s even more delicate when they speak to their agents because there aren’t many jobs around.”

Massie-Taylor believes it will take several years before clubs recover from the financial wounds inflicted by the pandemic and Diamond, a veteran coach who has spent time at Sale, Northampton and Saracens, admits the current situation is bleak.

“It’s precarious. Every club has – quite rightly – borrowed money from the Government to get themselves through,” he said,

“I don’t know the finances of any other clubs, but there are other clubs who are in a precarious position.”