Wasps: Consortium of former players close to rescue deal
Saturday October 29 2022, 7.30pm BST, The Sunday Times
Wasps will be able to play in the Championship next season if investment can be secured
The prospect of Wasps being back in business has grown significantly after a consortium that includes several distinguished former players had an offer accepted by the club’s joint-administrators to buy the men’s team and the successful academy.
The RFU confirmed on Friday that Wasps were suspended from the Premiership for the rest of the season, with results expunged — formalising their relegation — after the club entered administration and made 167 players and staff redundant.
The six-times Premiership winners can play in the Championship next season if suitable investment is found and a group featuring members of the Wasps’ Legends organisation has stepped forward to provide it.
The consortium is expected to take steps to hire a number of senior coaching staff, with the aim of building a squad capable of competing next season.
Andrew Sheridan, joint-administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: “The consortium knows that it still has to meet all of the RFU requirements, including the fit and proper owners’ test and the presentation of a three-to-five-year business plan, with supporting robust financial forecasts, and that this needs to completed as soon as is practical in order to be in a position to play next season. However, this deal is a significant step forward, and one that we all hope will allow Wasps Rugby to live on.
“We have informed the RFU about this development and the consortium is fully aware of the rugby creditors’ rules, as set out in Regulation 5 by the RFU [the new venture would have to pay up debts still owed by the club]. We understand that the consortium will seek to work with the RFU, the RPA and their members to reach a reasonable conclusion on those matters.”
Separate discussions are being conducted regarding the women’s team and Wasps Netball and the joint-administrators are expected to provide further updates in due course.
This development follows the announcement of a new panel of financiers that has been formed to save English rugby’s other stricken club, Worcester Warriors, led by their former director of rugby Steve Diamond.
If Wasps and Worcester, who are also suspended, take their places in the Championship next season, they could play in a proposed new competition comprising all ten Premiership teams and ten second-tier clubs. That would take place in international windows — especially during the Six Nations and autumn internationals — with the aim of improving the Championship and decreasing the number of league matches for which the Test players are not available.
The new relationship between the leagues would almost certainly boost the second tier, the quality of which has been improving at a steady rate with the likes of Jersey Reds, Doncaster Knights, Coventry and Ealing Trailfinders.
The Championship has an as-yet untapped potential to bring forward the next wave of players, referees, administrators, groundsmen and to attract local fans.