Wasps go into administration and make playing and coaching staff redundant

The ailing English rugby club won the Premiership four times, and European Cup twice.
Wasps go into administration and make playing and coaching staff redundant

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent

English rugby team Wasps’ entire playing and coaching staff have been made redundant among 167 job losses on another dark day for English rugby.

Less than three weeks after their fellow Gallagher Premiership club Worcester went into administration, four-time English champions and twice European Cup winners Wasps followed suit.

They had already been suspended from the Premiership, following Worcester in seeing their season put on hold, with both clubs facing relegation.

Wasps were hit by a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs for £2 million (€2.3 million) in unpaid tax, and they were also required to repay a £35 million bond which had helped finance the club’s relocation to Coventry during 2014.

Wasps Holdings Limited, the holding company for Wasps men’s and women’s rugby teams, plus Wasps Netball, has gone into administration and the company ceased trading with immediate effect. All members of the playing squads and coaching staff have lost their jobs.

The administrators FRP added that a small number of employees have been retained to support with the “orderly wind down of the company” and the operation of the CBS Arena, which is unaffected by administration and continues to trade as normal.

Wasps’ playing squad includes the likes of England internationals Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis, who was named in England’s Autumn Nations Series squad on Monday, Dan Robson and Brad Shields.

 

Wasps chief executive Stephen Vaughan said the club had been in dialogue with the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby regarding relegation.

“They have been very good with us, very honest, they understand the situation,” he told Sky Sports.

“The difficulty the RFU face is I guess the precedent that may set with other clubs. We are in dialogue with them now to see what we can possibly do.

“We probably understand that we have to come back in the Championship next year, but there are a lot of players in there who would love to stick with Wasps, whether it’s in the Championship or the Premiership.

Lee Blackett
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has described events as “sickening”. (Steve Welsh/PA)

“We’ve been on the market for a long time now, so it isn’t like this is a surprise to anybody.

“We are in genuine dialogue with people and having more conversations tomorrow and the day after. If it (buyer) is going to happen, we imagine there will be an announcement in the next three, four days.”

Asked what he wanted to see happen so other clubs could avoid the fate of Wasps and Worcester, Vaughan added: “Currently, the way it is set up, and it’s no fault of Premiership Rugby, the owners of all the clubs get to make decisions on the other clubs, and that is just not right.

“A bit like the NFL and NBA, we would have a commissioner. I think that would be essential, so decisions can be made for the greater good.

Wasps
Four-time Premiership champions Wasps face an uncertain future (David Davies/PA)

“Because it won’t just be Wasps. It’s Wasps today, Worcester a couple of weeks ago and it will be other clubs in the future. We need a strategic governance that allows the CEO of Premiership Rugby to make decisions.”

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett, meanwhile, added: “I am just sad. I think when you look at the players that I’ve seen through there, the staff upset – it’s sickening.

“There are players and staff who wanted to play Premiership Rugby this year, and unless something happens extremely quickly, I cannot see how that can happen.”

Wasps have been ever present in the Premiership since the competition began 25 years ago, winning it in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

Lawrence Dallaglio
Former Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio with the Premiership trophy (David Davies/PA)

They have also fielded some of England’s most well-known players during rugby union’s professional era, including England World Cup winners Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey and Simon Shaw.

Joint administrator Andrew Sheridan said: “This is a dark day for English rugby, and we know this will be devastating news for every Wasps player and member of staff, past players, sponsors, and their thousands of supporters throughout the world

“Our immediate focus is on supporting those who have lost their jobs this morning.

Wasps
Wasps’ emblem outside the Coventry Building Society Arena (Jacob King/PA)

“This will be an incredibly challenging time for every individual, and we will be assisting them in making claims to the redundancy payments service.

“The board and many others across the club have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to try and find a solution that would allow the club to move forward, and it is with great regret that there has been insufficient time to allow this to happen.

“However, we remain in ongoing discussions with interested parties and are confident that a deal will be secured that will allow Wasps to continue.”

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