Worcester have been suspended from the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup for the remainder of the 2022-23 season, the Rugby Football Union has announced.
The Warriors’ Premiership future had been left in doubt after the club was partially liquidated on Wednesday, with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pursuing unpaid tax in the region of £6million.
“Following a meeting of the RFU’s Club Financial Viability Group today, the RFU can confirm the suspension of Worcester Warriors from the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup for the remainder of the 2022-23 season,” a statement from the governing body read on Thursday evening.
Wednesday’s ruling instructed that WRFC Players Ltd, a subsidiary of WRFC Trading Ltd through which players and some staff are paid, be wound up. A winding-up petition against WRFC Trading Ltd, which remains in administration, has been suspended.
Club captain Ted Hill, Ollie Lawrence, Fergus Lee-Warner and Valeriy Morozov had already joined Bath on loan. Following the latest ruling, other players had their contracts terminated, along with members of staff, which saw British and Irish Lions winger Duhan van der Merwe return to former club Edinburgh.
Administrators Begbies Traynor are seeking a buyer for WRFC Trading Ltd and are talking to two consortiums.
The RFU said the decision to suspend the team would allow “space and time” to prioritise the work to secure a deal for the long-term future of the club.
The RFU said the progress made by the administrators, including relating to the land around Sixways Stadium was encouraging.
“It has taken the decision to suspend the team in order to prioritise the space and time to work with Begbies Traynor to support the prospect of securing a deal with the right investor, giving the club the best chance for a long-term sustainable future,” the RFU’s statement continued.
“As the club no longer has staff and players on contract and with many seeking alternative employment, the decision has been made to focus on how the club can be viable over the long term.
“This is a complex situation and any potential investors and management will require due diligence and approvals from the RFU and PRL (Premiership Rugby).
“A condition of any potential deal will include a requirement for the payment of all rugby creditors including any outstanding salaries owed to staff, players and coaches.
#TOGETHER “This is the darkestday for English rugby. We thought we could turn the tanker around but it’s ended up like the Titanic, sadly. The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen. The RFU/PRL band played in the back ground. There are a privileged few who have jobs.
— Steve Diamond (@Steve_Dimes) October 5, 2022
“The administrators are in discussions with several potential investors and it is expected they will also be planning for long-term sustainability.”
If investors can be secured, Worcester will restart in the Championship for the 2023-24 season but can appeal the RFU’s decision if it can show there was ‘no fault insolvency’.
The RFU said it is also working with the administrators and a potential investor to try to find a way to keep the University of Worcester Warriors women’s team in the Allianz Premier 15s for the remainder of the current campaign.
“However, given the club’s previously announced suspension, we can confirm that University of Worcester Warriors women’s game in the Allianz Cup against DMP Sharks on Saturday October 15 will not go ahead. An update on the position of future games will be given in due course,” the governing body added.