The financial crisis gripping English rugby deepened Wednesday when Wasps, one of the nation’s most storied clubs, said it was likely to enter into administration because of its debts.
This comes a week after another top-flight club, Worcester Warriors, was placed in compulsory liquidation as it is pursued for unpaid tax.
Both teams would be automatically relegated to the second-tier Championship for going into administration – a form of bankruptcy protection, according to Rugby Football Union regulations.
Wasps, a two-time European champion and six-time English champion, has been an ever-present in the Premiership since the competition began 25 years ago and had some of England’s top players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Simon Shaw. Its current squad contains a number of England internationals, including Jack Willis, Joe Launchbury and Jacob Umaga.
Wasps has pulled out of its Premiership match against Exeter that was scheduled for Saturday.
The club said it has ”insufficient cash at this time to continue to fund operations” until a solution can be found to secure its long-term financial future.
Wasps has a debt of 35 million pounds ($38.65 million) stemming from its relocation to Coventry in central England from London in 2014. That debt needs repaying or refinancing and the club has been looking to get in insolvency experts in to help with their financial issues.
”However,” said a statement from Wasps Holdings Limited, ”it has become clear that there is likely to be insufficient time to find a solvent solution for the companies within the group, and it is therefore likely that they will enter into administration in the coming days with a view to concluding deals shortly thereafter.”
Wasps said it will continue to look for new investment ”until the very last opportunity.”
”While these are challenging times,” the club said, ”we remain confident that new owners will be found that will allow the clubs and businesses within the group to move forward.”
Wasps also has a women’s rugby team and a netball team that will be affected by the financial problems, which were exacerbated by rugby’s shutdown during the pandemic that hit all clubs in the pocket and required the British government to intervene with a rescue package.
Players and staff at Worcester have had their contracts terminated amid its financial problems, with the club owing Britain’s tax authority about 6 million pounds ($6.8 million).
Owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have been accused of asset-stripping the Warriors, whose men’s team has been in the Premiership since 2015.
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