English rugby club Worcester suspended due to financial issues

English Premiership rugby club Worcester Warriors were suspended from all competition on Monday after falling into financial turmoil amid debts totaling more than 25 million pounds ($26.7 million).

The English Rugby Football Union has given Worcester a deadline to show proof of insurance cover and funding for the club’s monthly payroll. The RFU also wanted proof of a ‘credible plan to take the club forward’.

The crisis-stricken Warriors, whose men’s squad includes Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe and England center Ollie Lawrence, had not responded to those requests by 5 p.m. local time. This prompted the RFU to suspend Worcester’s men’s and women’s teams with immediate effect.

It was later confirmed by the government that Worcester had been placed in administration – a form of bankruptcy protection – “to give the club the best chance of survival and to protect an important taxpayer investment”.

“We met with the players and staff last week to explain why this action would be necessary,” said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, “and unfortunately, with no assurances in place, we had to take this action to protect the best interests of everyone.”

Part of the debt is an unpaid tax of at least £6m ($6.4m) amid growing anger at owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, who have been accused of stripping the assets of the central England club whose men’s team have been in the top flight since 2015.

Sixways Stadium in Worcester is closed. Club staff have been given until Monday afternoon to collect their belongings, with no indication of when or if they will reopen.

Premiership Rugby has confirmed that Worcester’s Championship match at Gloucester on Saturday will not take place.

Worcester have played three top league games, winning one and losing the other two.

His first home game of the season, against Exeter last Sunday, was only given the green light two days earlier as volunteers offered to cover stewardship and medical needs.

For a domestic cup game against Gloucester on Wednesday, Worcester used a player who retired at the end of last season and runs a pizzeria, and their 41-year-old academy coach who played a competition for the last time in 2013.

Because the Warriors don’t have liability insurance, the Worcester team has to practice offsite when the players finally come together.

___

More AP Rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports