Worcester’s director of rugby, Steve Diamond, says his team “cannot keep going” in the Gallagher Premiership beyond the next few days unless a deal can be done to ease the club’s increasingly acute cashflow crisis. There are fears the Warriors’ weekend loss to Exeter could be the last league fixture the club is able to fulfil without urgent fresh investment.
In a statement released on Sunday, the club’s owners insisted a new buyer was still keen to take over and that a formal announcement of a sale would be forthcoming “in the next 48 hours”. Within the club, however, trust has virtually evaporated and there is not even enough money available to register loan players with the Rugby Football Union before Wednesday’s Premiership Cup fixture against Gloucester.
Diamond also cannot yet say for certain whether Saturday’s home game against Newcastle will go ahead, with the Exeter match having been staged only because volunteers offered to cover stewarding and medical requirements. “We are on the never-never at the minute, we can’t keep going,” said Diamond, having seen his side give a valiant display in a 36-21 defeat to the Chiefs.
“An answer is going to have to come this week. The players are now working in arrears. I don’t know how long we can keep going but a line has to be drawn. It’s quite embarrassing for us to call ourselves a high-performance environment and for me to be involved when we are dealing with what we are dealing with. It’s like the old days of professional sport, a bit of shamateurism.”
There are even allegations of staff currently owed money having been threatened with the sack after criticism of the owners on social media. Diamond said: “If anybody has been threatened or bullied in the building, which allegedly has happened, I can’t believe it when people have given up their free time and volunteered to come into work when they’re not getting paid.”
Pressure is also increasing on the game’s authorities, with calls for Sport England to appoint an administrator to review the club’s affairs and, specifically, to look at some of the subsequent Sixways land transactions after the allocation of £15m of taxpayers’ money towards Worcester’s survival.
The latest missive from the existing owners, however, insists salvation is close at hand. “We are at final stages with the heads of terms and hope to make a formal announcement on them in the next 48 hours,” read a statement.
“The buyer is aware of the immediate cash requirements and has confirmed their willingness to inject funds early next week. These funds are primarily to fulfil the August salaries along with ensuring all September commitments are also met on time.”