Wasps: Gallagher Premiership club placed into administration | 167 players, staff made redundant
Wasps Holdings Limited is the holding company for Wasps men's and women's rugby teams, and Wasps netball has ceased trading; the administrators said that 167 employees have been made redundant; Wasps are the second Premiership club to go into administration this season after Worcester
Last Updated: 18/10/22 6:19am
Wasps have been placed into administration and have immediately ceased trading, a statement from the club has announced.
Wasps Holdings Limited is the trading company for Wasps men's and women's rugby teams, and Wasps netball. The company has now ceased trading, with Andrew Sheridan and Rajnesh Mittal of FRP appointed as administrators.
The Coventry-based club had a debt pile that included an unpaid tax bill owed to HM Revenue & Customs and faced having to repay a £35m bond which had helped finance the club's relocation to Coventry in 2014.
The administrators FRP said 167 employees have been made redundant, including all members of the playing squads and coaching staff.
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The former Premiership and European champions had filed a notice in the High Court last month stating their intention to appoint an administrator to secure their future.
The club withdrew the men's team ahead of last weekend's fixture against Exeter Chiefs and the club were suspended from the Gallagher Premiership.
Rugby Football Union (RFU) regulations state that a club placed in administration during the season will be relegated for the following campaign, unless they can prove that it was a 'no-fault insolvency event'.
This is defined by the regulations as circumstances 'beyond the control and without the fault or negligence of the affected club' and the club was unable to prevent with reasonable diligence. For example, the Covid pandemic or a natural disaster.
Wasps are the second Premiership club to go into administration this season after Worcester Warriors.
"Andrew Sheridan and Raj Mittal, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP, have today (17th October) been appointed as joint administrators of Wasps Holdings Limited, the holding company for Wasps Men, Wasps Ladies, Wasps Netball, the associated coaching and support teams, and the respective Academies and Pathways. The company has ceased trading with immediate effect," a statement read.
"Regrettably, upon appointment the joint administrators were required to make 167 employees redundant, including all members of the playing squads and coaching staff. 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 this administration and continues to trade as normal."
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, and anyone who has ever been involved with this great club.
"Our immediate focus is on supporting those who have lost their jobs this morning. 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.
"We would like to thank the RFU and PRL for their support to date and we continue to engage closely with them as negotiations with interested parties continue.
"Of course, time remains of the essence, and we will be doing everything in our power to progress discussions with interested parties as quickly as possible, while fulfilling our statutory duties as administrators.
"This will include discussions with Wasps FC, the amateur club aligned to the Wasps Women team to explore options that may allow the Wasps Women team to continue playing.
"Despite the challenging and complex environment, we have been heartened by the supportive approach taken by all stakeholders to date and are confident that this will continue now that the business is in administration, with all focused on securing an outcome that is in the best interests of rugby and the wider community."
Blackett: It's sickening | CEO: Decision-making structure of Premiership needs to change; Other clubs will be next
Former Wasps head coach Lee Blackett...
"It's a process that was going down and we were always hopeful for positive news. I think people always like that are going to think positively and this sad day has come.
"I hope there's some positive news in the next few weeks, but after this day it's hard to see past.
"I'm just sad. I think if you look at the players I've just seen through there, staff upset, it's sickening.
"There's things probably ongoing [regarding a takeover]. Hopefully, it's at some point, but there's players and staff that wanted to play Premiership Rugby this year and unless something happens very quickly I just cannot see how that's going to actually happen.
"I'm extremely sad because the people in this environment care massively about those guys and seeing them where they are is devastating. It's more extreme than that - it's so sad. We worked so hard as a group to get together. There are staff and players who have been here for a long time so to have this day, where this group have split up, it's really sad.
"I've got to take a little bit of time to digest this over the next few days and see if there's any positive news that comes out the other side. You realise it's not just the players and staff here, there's massive families behind them and my thoughts are with everyone.
"There's been people that have been brought up on Wasps and to lose that is gutting."
Wasps Chief Executive Stephen Vaughan...
"We've been in dialogue with the RFU and PRL with regards to relegation. They've been very good with us, very honest with us.
"They understand the situation and the difficulty the RFU face is I guess the precedent that it may set with other clubs.
"But yes we are in dialogue with them now to see what we can possibly do. And of course we've gone into administration, but that doesn't mean we're not still having conversations with people and we will still do that.
"We understand we'll probably have to come back in at the Championship next year, but there's a lot of players in there that would love to stick with Wasps, whether it's in the Championship or the Premiership.
"This club has been going for over 155 years, if it means six months elsewhere to bring it back with really good solid, honest ownership, a great leadership team and the core group that's in there now, then I think we'd take that today.
"Hard to say [how close a takeover is]. People are aware that we've been on the market for a long time now, so it's not like this is a surprise to anybody.
"We are in genuine dialogue with people, we've got more conversations happening tomorrow and the day after, and we really hope we can get the right people involved.
"If it's going to happen we imagine there will be a decision and announcement in the next three or four days.
"No [the P-share is not the key]. It's not a red herring, but is something that makes the club much more attractive for an investor to come in. However it isn't the only thing.
"We understand why it's there, and why the other investors [in the Premiership] may not want to help Wasps or Worcester out, especially.
"And we have to understand that the way Premiership Rugby is set up, the owners and investors have all the power, and I'm not sure that's right, but that's how it is set up. So we can't rely on the P-share.
"All of the conversations we're having at the moment do not rely on the P-share. It's a very honest conversation about what the financial outlook looks like.
"What I'd really like to see is for Premiership Rugby to have a real accountability with regards to the leadership group that are allowed to make decisions.
"Currently the way it is set up, and it's no fault of Premiership Rugby, is the owners of all of the clubs get to make decisions on all of the other clubs. And that's just not right.
"A bit like the NFL and NBA, I think we should have a commissioner, that would be essential, so decisions could be made for the greater good.
"Because for an amazing institution like Wasps, with some really great, talented people here, to not be able to continue when there are people that want to invest but because of particular parts of governance or contracts don't allow that to happen, that's pretty difficult to deal with.
"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 strategic governance that allows the CEO of Premiership Rugby to make decisions."
Greening: I feel for the players and staff
Former Wasps hooker 2000-2005 Phil Greening...
"It's a tough day for the club. Just watching Lee Blackett, you can see the emotion they've all been through and for a club with a 155-year history and what we created, it's just devastating.
"Hopefully the club can bounce back and there are some positive outcomes around the corner.
"The mismanagement has been poor and I think Stephen alluded to it, it has caught up with them. I'm pretty confident there will be someone who can take this club on because of the world reputation we have and the team and the support and everything we've got, that we can build back from the Championship.
"Also, looking at the game as a whole in the Premiership, there has to be another way.
"It's not sustainable and a lot of it has been down to benefactors and club owners putting money in, but if you're losing £4m or £5m a year you're never going to become a sustainable business.
"I just feel for all the players, all the staff and everyone associated with Wasps. It's quite a tearful day for everyone associated with the club."
England Netball: Thoughts are with players and the club
A statement from England Netball read: "We had sincerely hoped that an appropriate solution could have been found to ensure the survival of Wasps Holdings Limited.
"Whilst we process exactly what this news means for the future of Wasps Netball, our thoughts are with the club,
its players and their wider support team during this incredibly difficult time.
"We will continue to work together with all relevant parties including the Netball Players Association, and are committed to exploring solutions to protect netball opportunities at community, pathway and elite level."
Scotland head coach Tamsin Greenway, said: "Absolutely gutted for all involved in this. Such a special club and so many incredible people there."