It is D-Day for former Premiership rugby club Worcester Warriors with the deadline between the proposed owners Atlas Consortium and administrators Begbies Traynor set to expire today.
The administrators, who took over the club in September, swapped contracts with Atlas – led by former Worcester chief executive Jim O’Toole and ex-player James Sandford – on 1 February with the intention of the deal being completed and signed off within 90 days.
Last week in their progress report Begbies Traynor confirmed that today, 2 May, was the deadline for the deal to go through, while also confirming that the club were in the process of losing their access to the central Premiership funding pot.
Though Sandford did not reply to comment on hitting the deadline, sources have suggested that the Atlas consortium are still looking to raise the required funds in which to complete the purchase of Worcester Warriors.
If successful, the owners are planning on merging the club with Stourbridge RFC – soon to be in the fifth tier – and work themselves back into the Championship and then Premiership, but the Rugby Football Union, England’s governing body, have suggested that teams cannot buy a place in the rugby pyramid and that they’re yet to receive a proposal involving Stourbridge from Atlas.
Should the deal fall through or an extension not be granted, sources close to a rival bid spearheaded by former head coach Steve Diamond have suggested that they could step in – backed by former sponsor Adam Hewitt.
Should today’s deadline be extended further, it would be another blow for those at the club who have lost out financially and who are waiting and hoping for compensation.
Atlas have said that they are at odds with the RFU over paying all rugby creditors – including players and staff – who are owed money but have said that they would set up a fund to help. Some so-called rugby creditors and former employees have told City A.M. they’re owed thousands.
The RFU have said that paying rugby creditors is key to any proposal being approved by the governing body – Diamond’s bid for Worcester Warriors has previously committed to this.