Worcester faces a mass exodus with unpaid wages and a liquidation order that needs to be heard

Gallagher Premiership Club Worcester’s crisis has deepened.

The players could be released from their contracts next Wednesday when a settlement order issued by HM Revenue and Customs is heard in the High Court.

Players’ contracts and those of some club staff are held by an unmanaged company called WRFC Players Ltd, which is the subject of HMRC’s complaint.

It is a subsidiary of WRFC Trading Ltd, for which administrators Begbies Traynor are looking for a buyer.

Two syndicates, one of which includes former Worcester chief executive Jim O’Toole, are understood to have expressed interest in buying the club out of administration.

All Warriors players and staff were due to be paid on Friday but the PA news agency can confirm that has not happened, meaning players and staff are entitled to look elsewhere for employment.

For anyone wanting to leave, that means 14 days’ notice before becoming a free agent two weeks later.

But if WRFC Players Ltd were to go into liquidation, Worcester would automatically have no players or staff under contract, effectively leaving them unemployed and leaving Warriors seemingly with no choice but to exit England’s top rugby division.

Worcester’s debts total more than £25million, including at least £6million in unpaid taxes, while owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have been accused of robbing assets from the club.

The club on Monday failed to meet a deadline set by Rugby Football Union for proof of insurance coverage and funding for the club’s monthly payroll, resulting in him being banned from all competitions.

Goldring and Whittingham, owners of WRFC Players Ltd, could seek an extension of up to 14 days in the dissolution order, giving prospective club buyers an opportunity to retain staff.

In another development, PA believes administrators were only able to access Worcester’s computer server on Thursday evening to begin reviewing relevant materials.

The club’s IT provider is a creditor and is believed to be owed in excess of £20,000. All WiFi at Sixways and server access were shut down two weeks ago.

Premiership rivals Worcester and neighboring Gloucester, meanwhile, have given Warriors season ticket holders a 50 per cent discount on tickets to the home games of the Cherry and Whites Premiership and Premiership Cup.

Gloucester was scheduled to host Worcester on Saturday before the Warriors went into suspension. They will now hold an opening practice session at Kingsholm instead.

In a message to Worcester fans published on the Gloucester website, club chief executive Lance Bradley said: “On behalf of everyone at Gloucester Rugby, I would like to say how sorry we are all to hear about the difficulties your club is going through .

“While we cannot currently help you watch Worcester Warriors we can help you watch alternative top quality rugby matches.

Our clubs are rivals on the pitch but not off it

“While your team cannot play, we want to offer Worcester Warriors season ticket holders the opportunity to purchase tickets at a 50 percent discount.

“We don’t expect you to make a sudden move to Gloucester Rugby and you’re welcome to wear your Worcester shirts.

“Our clubs are rivals on the pitch, but not off it. When we see our neighbors going through a tough time, it just feels right to welcome you to our “holm”.

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https://www.newschainonline.com/sport/mens-sport/rugby/worcester-facing-mass-exodus-with-wages-unpaid-and-winding-up-order-to-be-heard-295505 Worcester faces a mass exodus with unpaid wages and a liquidation order that needs to be heard

Mike Fahey

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