Worcester’s newly appointed administrators have been urged to act swiftly if the club is to have a realistic chance of rising from the Premiership ashes. The cash-strapped Warriors have been suspended from all competitions and face a potential exodus of players and staff even if their September salaries are paid on Friday as scheduled.
Premiership contracts contain a clause which entitles players to terminate their agreement with any club that enters administration. Other clubs are already keen to sign high-profile individuals like the Scotland pair of Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland, who need to be playing club games to be in contention for international call-ups.
Worcester’s match against Gloucester this weekend is already off and, if the club cannot play their next home game against Harlequins on 8 October, they do not have another scheduled league fixture until 22 October. The longer the Warriors, who are locked out of their ground, spend in Premiership limbo the harder it becomes for their squad to be remotely competitive or to guarantee player safety.
The administrators, Begbies Traynor, have consequently indicated they will be looking at unlocking currently frozen club funds and talking to interested parties who might be able to inject funds immediately, potentially in return for preferred bidder status.
One potential new saviour is an American-backed consortium fronted by Jim O’Toole, the former Worcester chief executive, which is offering £17.5m of investment to cover outstanding losses and the costs of the administration process. Any deal, however, will hinge on the unravelling of recent transactions relating to the land and car park adjacent to Sixways Stadium.
“We would hope the land transactions … that have left the club with liabilities and no assets will be investigated and that a positive result will come out of that,” O’Toole told BBC Hereford and Worcester. “We’ve got funds to provide four years’ liquidity and we’re ready to go.”
Julie Palmer, the administrator from Begbies Traynor, has acknowledged the concerns of O’Toole and others that time is short. “I can quite understand their position which seems to be the more weeks that lapse the more difficult it is to get Worcester playing,” she told the BBC. “My focus is on whether something can be done for the next home match.” Being placed into administration this early in the season makes it probable that, as things stand, Worcester will be relegated to the Championship next May.