Wasps chief remains cool on tax threat

WASPS owner Steve Hayes has dismissed suggestions that the club are facing a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill of over £1m.

Reports claimed that HM Revenue and Customs had issued a warning to the Guinness Premiership club earlier this month with the threat of a winding-up petition looming over them.

The HMRC refused to comment on Wasps’ case, only to say it took “a sympathetic approach to both individuals and businesses that have genuine short-term difficulties in paying the tax they owe”.

But Hayes yesterday spoke of his surprise at the claims, insisting both parties are happy with the arrangement currently in place.

“We remain very confident in the future of London Wasps both on and off the pitch,” Hayes said. “There is no winding up petition and I am surprised by these reports given we already have an agreement in place with HMRC.

“The short and long term prospects at the club, including development of a new stadium, are very exciting and show the good health of London Wasps.”

Under coach Tony Hanks, Wasps are on the cusp of qualifying for the Premiership end-of-season play-offs, but first must negotiate a crucial St George’s Day fixture against fellow hopefuls Bath at Twickenham on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Wasps fans were handed a further boost yesterday when it was confirmed that former centre Riki Flutey will leave French club Brive at the end of the season to return to his old stomping ground.

Flutey, 30, has endured a nightmare season in the Top 14 as a shoulder injury has limited him to just five appearances.

Indeed, he now requires more surgery and will miss England’s summer tour of Australasia.

A Brive spokesman said: “The club, the player and his agent have come to an agreement about Riki’s early departure. Brive accepts the financial terms of the transfer.”