RFU gives Warriors deadline to prove stadium safe

RFU gives Warriors deadline to prove stadium safe

Worcester have never finished higher than eighth in their 16-year Premier League history

Worcester Warriors have been given until midday on Friday by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to prove they can safely host games at Sixways Stadium or face being suspended from all competitions.

Worcester must provide evidence that the local authority has issued a general safety certificate and written confirmation of medical benefit.

The Premiership club play Exeter at home on Sunday.

However, this game has been called into question.

“The RFU, PRL and DCMS have been seeking assurances from the owners of Worcester Warriors regarding funding and possible new ownership proposals for several weeks,” read an RFU statement.

“All parties are concerned that the lack of available funds will not allow the club to hold matches safely for players and spectators, and for continued medical provision for players.”

Worcester’s future has been in doubt for weeks since they revealed they were in dialogue with HMRC over a plea to settle an unpaid £6m tax bill on 17 August. Total debts are reported to be £25 million.

The club is still waiting to close a deal with a new investor after the Warriors’ owners agreed to the terms of the sale on Tuesday.

“Any suspension may be lifted when the club has more security of funding and can demonstrate its ability to hold matches safely,” the RFU statement added.

Worcester denies the administration’s claim

Earlier on Thursday, Worcester said the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport mistakenly sent a letter suggesting the club had been put into administration.

warriors issued a statementexternal link saying it was not true and the DCMS had apologized for the “distress and anxiety caused”.

The announcement this week by owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring that they had “agreed” a deal with an investor that would save the club from administration gave new hope.

But 24 hours later, the club was still waiting for the “definitive signature”. Warriors said Wednesday that the deal was “with the respective parties’ attorneys, but the heads of terms must be signed before the sale can be concluded.”

The appearance of the DCMS letter on social media on Thursday appeared to throw the club’s future back into doubt before the Warriors moved to quash any speculation.

“This is not true,” the club said. “The statement was sent in error by DCMS, who have apologized for their mistake and for the distress and anxiety it has caused our staff and providers at an already very stressful time.

“As we said yesterday, we are awaiting the signing of an agreement with a buyer that will secure the long-term future of the club.”

The DCMS said the department “continues to work tirelessly with Warriors, the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby on options regarding their future survival”.

Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond told BBC Hereford and Worcester the new investors “had to deliver” and that the owners had told him they “were on the last runs of this.”

The club started their Premiership season with a defeat at London Irish last weekend.

“Much compassion” for Worcester staff and players

Exeter are scheduled to come to Sixways after beating Premiership champions Leicester in their opening game and Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said they are preparing to play the game.

“Obviously there’s been a lot in the press about the game being in doubt and it still doesn’t seem like there’s any concrete agreement about the people being paid who are forced to put the game on,” he told BBC Sport .

“This is out of our hands. We remember a week ago people were saying Worcester wouldn’t play their first game and they did. I hope the game is on.”

Baxter added: “Without thinking about the players, there are dozens of people who are involved in running a rugby club and to think that their livelihoods could not go through their fault is difficult.

“We spent a lot of time talking about making the players’ families feel part of it and if you do that, like most Premier League clubs do, it becomes an extended family and you feel for those players, so that I fully understand how those involved must feel now.

“They have bills to pay. There’s a lot of compassion for that.”

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