Worcester MP Robin Walker has addressed Parliament, calling on the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to sanction the troubled rugby club’s situation in Worcester Warriors in management.
Although Saturday’s Premier League game with Newcastle got the green light, the Warriors face RFU funding alert on Monday.
“I urge DCMS to step in by Monday,” Walker told the House of Commons.
“It would be a disaster for the sport in our province to lose the Premier League Rugby.”
He added: “The club’s current owners have brought it to the brink of financial collapse.
“I urge DCMS, as the largest creditor, and the department responsible for protecting the interest of the sport, to step in and do so before Monday.”
Walker, whose constituency includes the home of Warriors Sixways, spoke to two potential bidders.
One is the unnamed investment source reported last week by Warriors co-owner Jason Whittingham, who remains eager to move forward – but only if the club is first appointed into management. This is also the case with The rival bid for the consortium of former CEO Jim O’Toole.
Walker added: “If the objections of the current owners are to be believed and they have the club’s best interests at heart, then surely they, even at this point, should be the ones to summon those responsible.”
“Despite all they claim that this is the impact of the pandemic, they have failed to maintain the confidence of their employees, fulfill their promises to local stakeholders, or put in place realistic plans to reassure their many creditors.
“Their background in real estate development and the many complex transactions through which they maneuvered various parts of the club and its grounds raise serious doubts about their true commitment to professional rugby at Sixways.
“With organized management in place, and points deductions in place to ensure the Warriors remain in the Premier League, there is no reason why officials should not honor season tickets – and suppliers may have a great opportunity to recoup some of what they owe.”
New Culture Minister Stuart Andrew’s Reply
“The management is working tirelessly with the club’s directors, with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Association to get the best possible result for all involved,” said the government’s new culture minister, Stuart Andrew.
“We’ve put more energy at Worcester than we’ve done with any other club and we will continue to do so.
“This included a daily dialogue with both stakeholders and club directors to explore all available options and to take appropriate professional advice.
“At this point, we are not ruling out any options and are immediately sending professional advisors to take a closer look at the club and potential options.
“If it emerges from this work that the most viable option to save the club is to put him in charge, that is a decision we will not be afraid to make.”
Walker also expressed his “personal disgust” in a report in a national newspaper this week that the club’s co-owners received £500,000 from former Worcester owner Cecil Duckworth in January 2020, 10 months before his death at the age of 83.
“The money was borrowed in January 2020, before the pandemic and long before the owners acknowledged the current financial problems,” Walker added.
“Since his death, they have refused to communicate with his widow, or her lawyer, to give any update on the situation in which the payment can be made.”
Many of the club’s non-playing staff received only 65% of their salaries in August, while others received none at all.
Last Sunday’s opener against Exeter eventually went at a reduced capacity after the club received a safety certificate, with several staff working for free to ensure the match could go ahead.
The Russian Football Federation issued ultimatums on Wednesday, requesting proof by 12:00 GMT on Thursday that Saturday’s Premier League match with Newcastle can be played after setting “the same conditions as the previous weekend”.
The Board of Directors received this confirmation that the Warriors “met all conditions” and confirmed that the match would proceed at Sixways as planned.
It is understood that the match will be subject to a reduced ability similar to 4999 for the 36-21 defeat to Exeter.
It’s time to work
Five Worcestershire MPs – including Walker, also backed by Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, former Home Secretary and Treasurer – had previously called on the club to take over management.
It will be, said Whittingham and co-owner Colin Goldring Catastrophic effects. Then they announced The sale of the club has been agreed on September 13 but it has failed to issue any confirmation since then, other than a strangely released statement on Sunday to only one media outlet, BT Sport, which was then posted on Twitter.
“I and the local representatives have called for an administrative process to move the club forward,” Walker told BBC Hereford Worcester. “It is very clear that there are investors who are interested in moving to the club and supporting it.
“DCMS has always said that their concern about management is that it could lead to the club’s termination and obviously no one wants that.
“This is a huge societal asset. It is the livelihood of a lot of people. People have given their courage to start the Games.
“We all want to see the club preserved and we want to see the entire club and all the property around it kept together.”
As a DCMS minister when the Warriors situation first exploded, Walker’s fellow Worcestershire Member of Parliament, Nigel Huddleston, was initially barred from getting involved. But, after being succeeded by Stewart Andrew as minister as part of a new cabinet reshuffle on September 8, he was able to show his support and sat next to Walker as he delivered his address home.