Worcester given Friday deadline to prove Sixways is able to stage games

·5-min read

Worcester will be suspended from all competitions unless club chiefs provide the Rugby Football Union with safety certification to stage matches at Sixways Stadium by midday on Friday.

English rugby chiefs have written to the embattled Gallagher Premiership club, demanding proof of safety certificates to allow Warriors matches to continue.

Worcester’s Premiership match against Exeter at Sixways on Sunday has now been cast into major doubt, unless the beleaguered Warriors owners produce the relevant documents without delay.

The RFU has demanded evidence of council safety certificates as well as medical cover, with Worcester running out of time to satisfy the English game’s bosses.

Worcester owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have claimed to have agreed terms on the club’s sale, but rugby’s authorities remain yet to be convinced with players and staff still in limbo.

“The RFU has written to Worcester Warriors to confirm they will be immediately suspended from all competitions, including the Gallagher Premiership, Allianz Premier 15s and Allianz Cup if assurances as to the ability to safely hold matches at Sixways Stadium are not provided by 12 noon on 16 September,” read an RFU statement issued on Thursday night.

“This includes evidence that the local authority has issued a General Safety Certificate, and written confirmation of medical provision.

“Any suspension may be lifted once the club has more security of funding and is able to evidence its ability to hold matches safely.

“The RFU, PRL and DCMS has been seeking assurances from the Worcester Warriors owners regarding funding and potential new ownership proposals for several weeks.”

A Gallagher Premiership ball
Worcester’s Gallagher Premiership clash with Exeter is in doubt (Mike Egerton/PA)

Worcester remain at threat of expulsion from all league competitions, should the Warriors be unable to produce satisfactory financing amid the continued and protracted talk of a sale.

The club accepted the RFU’s position and will keep working to provide safety certificates in time for Sunday’s Premiership clash to go ahead.

“Worcester Warriors understand the position of the RFU, PRL and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport concerning the requirements for staging this weekend’s Allianz Cup and Gallagher Premiership matches at Sixways,” read a Worcester statement.

“Our staff have been working hard this week to ensure that we comply with the requirements for a General Safety Certificate and we will continue to do so on Friday morning to ensure that we are fully compliant.

“We, and the potential new owners of the club, are also aware of the serious consequences that may follow if the club is suspended from playing any competitive rugby.

“The best solution to avoid such a sanction is to ensure that heads of terms on the agreement with the new owners are signed as quickly as possible. Work continues this evening to that end.”

The Warriors were forced to deny being forced into an administration earlier on Thursday, after bungling DCMS staff sent out a statement in error.

Rugby Union 2022-2023 Club by Club File Photos
Rob Baxter, pictured, cut a frustrated fixture amid the uncertainty surrounding Sunday’s Premiership clash with Worcester (Simon Galloway/PA)

Now though, the RFU has moved to force the issue ahead of Worcester’s scheduled meeting with Exeter, with both clubs’ players and coach still unsure whether the match will go ahead.

“All parties are concerned that the lack of available funds will not allow the club to hold matches safely for players and spectators, and for ongoing medical provision for players,” read the RFU statement.

“In particular, the local authority have not yet provided the club a General Safety Certificate to allow matches to be played at Sixways Stadium.

“All parties must balance the needs of the club to have time to raise funds to safely hold matches, with the need for certainty for supporters, players and support staff of all teams for the matches due to be held at Sixways Stadium this weekend.”

Worcester’s debts are spiralling out of control, as high as £25million, but the Warriors owners insist a sale of the club inches ever closer.

Worcester Warriors File Photo
Sixways is due to host Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match between Worcester and Exeter (David Davies/PA)

Government officials at DCMS were left with egg on their faces in an embarrassing mistake on Thursday morning however, plunging Worcester’s plight into the realms of farce.

An email declaring Worcester had fallen into administration was sent out to supporters, with Warriors quickly insisting the statement was a mistake.

The DCMS had prepared the email in case of the club entering administration, but a draft somehow found its way into the public domain.

“Worcester are aware of a letter that is in circulation from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport claiming that the owners have put the club into administration. This is NOT true,” a Warriors’ statement read.

“The statement was sent out in error by DCMS who have apologised for their mistake and the distress and anxiety it has caused to our staff and suppliers at what is already an extremely stressful time.”

The DCMS is understood to be looking into how the error occurred, and is continuing to work with Worcester, the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby on options around their survival.