Wasps’ bid to take part in next season’s Championship is set to be approved, but Worcester Warriors are at risk of being barred from doing so by the Rugby Football Union.
The Coventry-based side, which like Worcester were kicked out of the Premiership after being placed in administration, are set to be parachuted into the second tier of English rugby following the club’s takeover.
But barring a dramatic U-turn, the RFU’s board will meet on Friday to approve a recommendation from its Club Financial Viability Group (CFVG) not to allow Worcester to join.
This follows a row between the Warriors’ potential new owners, Atlas Worcester Warriors Rugby Club Ltd, and the RFU over strict conditions the latter sought to impose on its bailout deal.
An RFU spokesperson said: “The RFU Board will meet to discuss this matter on Friday and we will not formally comment on a decision that has not been made.”
Sports Telegraph was informed that the CFVG was not convinced that the information provided by the buyers, in particular relating to their financial situation, demonstrated their ability to continue to finance the club and to carry out their business plan, which provides for significant development in the Sixways website.
Conditions imposed on the deal included an RFU veto over the handing over of land around the stadium, prompt payment of rugby creditors, commitments to a women’s team and other key governance conditions.
Atlas, led by former Warriors general manager Jim O’Toole and funded by the United States, called the terms “excessive, unreasonable, unachievable” in a statement confirming the standoff and refused to accept them.
He said he would proceed with the takeover of WRFC Trading Limited regardless, which would give him ownership of the club and its assets, but would leave Worcester without an “elite level” rugby team.
Calling the CFVG’s conclusion that it had failed to demonstrate its ability to continue funding the club as ‘manifestly untrue’, he said the RFU was trying to place Atlas in ‘special measures’ similar to those imposed on insolvent clubs , and to gain approval rights over his business plan and access to Warriors board meetings, raising “the specter of shadow management”.
He added: “To Worcester fans and business partners, we reiterate our commitment to bringing elite men’s and women’s rugby back to Worcester and putting it at the forefront of our business. We hope that the RFU will take a commercial and less costly approach in the future and work with us to find a pragmatic, commercial and sensible solution that works for all parties.
News of the row prompted Steve Diamond, the former Worcester director of rugby who made a rival offer for the club, to tweet: “I can confirm that Adam Hewitt and I are fully committed to bringing Worcester back. Warriors in the Premiership. We’ve got the plan and the funding. Give us the chance. We’ll give you the rugby. Bring it on!”
Approval of the Wasps takeover would have been easier, as the club lost its own stadium, the Coventry Building Society Arena, when it went into administration.
The land has been purchased by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group and the club is in negotiations to become a tenant.