Worcester Warriors owners reach agreement for sale of Premiership club

Sport

The Worcester owners have confirmed they have reached an agreement for the sale of the club in a move that looks set to save the Warriors from financial disaster if it proves successful.

As reported by the Guardian on Monday, a deal has been agreed with an unidentified buyer, giving rise to optimism that Worcester’s burgeoning debts of £25m – including the £6m owed to HMRC by 6 October – will betaken on and the club can avoid going into administration, which would in turn lead to relegation.

The sale has not been completed however, and as of close of business on Tuesday night the heads of terms had not been signed with lawyers from both sides working through the details. The Rugby Football Union, under pressure to scrutinise the deal given Worcester’s current plight, will also have to give its approval but it is understood that the union has received no information as to the sale despite promises to the contrary.

Nonetheless, the announcement from the co-owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring expresses hope that Sunday’s match against Exeter can go ahead as scheduled. There have been doubts as to whether the operational costs – around £120,000 – could be met but the Worcester owners said they have been working with the prospective buyers on an “immediate deposit” to cover those costs.

There remains an element of scepticism within the club given the majority of staff are still waiting for 35% of last month’s wages, and a handful for 100%, but while obstacles remain to be cleared before the weekend’s fixtures – Worcester’s women’s side are due to play Harlequins on Saturday – and though time is running out, the owners are set to issue another update on Wednesday.

“Warriors can confirm that owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have agreed the terms of the sale of the club to an interested party,” read a statement. “The heads of terms are now with the legal representatives of the respective parties who are going through the detail of the agreement. As of 5pm on Tuesday September 13 the heads of terms have yet to be signed.

“In the meantime, we have been working closely with the interested party on the immediate deposit of significant funds which will allow Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs at Sixways and Saturday’s Allianz Cup tie between University of Worcester Warriors and Harlequins to go ahead as scheduled. We will provide a further update both on the sale of the club and this weekend’s matches on Wednesday.”

Worcester began the season with a deflating 45-14 defeat by London Irish last Saturday after which the Premiership chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor said that the Warriors had less than a month to secure new investment or face going to the wall. Last week the director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted he had no idea if players and staff members would receive their September pay packets and urged his squad to put themselves in the “shop window” such was the uncertainty as to whether Worcester could finish the season.