Worcester Warriors have been warned by the Rugby Football Union that they will be suspended from all competitions at 5pm next Monday if the club cannot provide evidence of insurance cover in place, availability of funds to meet the monthly payroll, and a credible plan to take the club forward.
The beleaguered Gallagher Premiership side also face another deadline on Thursday for their Saturday fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons to go ahead, with the RFU again requiring Worcester to provide assurances in relation to the receipt of a General Safety Certificate from the local authority and written confirmation of medical provision by noon on Thursday, as was the case for last Sunday’s match with Exeter Chiefs. Newcastle are set to travel down to Worcester on Friday for the game.
A suspension may progress to Worcester’s full removal from the Gallagher Premiership, Allianz Premier 15s and Allianz Cup. Suspension however would not prevent a change of ownership, with owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham currently attempting to sell the club.
A statement from Whittingham at 2pm on Sunday suggested heads of terms would be agreed within 48 hours, although that deadline has now passed. Worcester still face an HMRC winding up petition – also known as compulsory liquidation – which is due on October 5.
In a statement the RFU praised the hard work of Worcester’s staff, who are still waiting for the remainder of their August salaries. “We are grateful to the staff at Worcester Warriors for their hard work in being able to provide the required information to allow the games to go ahead last weekend and in the week ahead.”
However, the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport added that they “remain concerned that the lack of available funds will not allow the club to be sustainable over the long term” while adding that the RFU was aware that Worcester’s insurance cover is only in place until midnight on Monday.
The latest update comes after Worcester cobbled together a side to compete in the Premiership Rugby Cup against Gloucester on Wednesday, including a former England deaf international and 41-year-old coach in a 22-man squad.
Mat Gilbert, 37, at one stage was the only deaf professional sportsman in England and played for Scarlets, Bath and Worcester during his career, while also winning 11 international caps for the England Deaf side before retiring at the end of last season.
Gilbert explained to Telegraph Sport how he became part of Worcester’s makeshift squad, revealing he had not been able to do any training because of work commitments.
“I was asked on Friday if I would play by a senior player and a friend, and said I’d consider it,” Gilbert said. “I had no idea who was playing or had been able to do training because of work. I literally live 300 metres from Kingsholm so will just be rocking across carrying my boots and scrum cap and away we go.”
Worcester have also called on Jonny Goodridge, 41, who joined Worcester as backs transition coach of the club’s academy in 2020. Goodridge made 72 Premiership appearances during his career with Gloucester, Yorkshire Carnegie and Bristol, scoring nine tries.
Worcester have deliberately not named a No 19 player on their bench, although this is understood to be due to a lack of players as opposed to available shirts.
Gloucester have also provided all of Worcester’s staff and non-selected players with tickets for the fixture at Kingsholm. “[A] lovely gesture that is hugely appreciated,” said Luke Broadley, the Worcester team manager.
The selections highlight Worcester’s desperate attempt to fulfil Wednesday’s fixture at Kingsholm, with the club working hard on Tuesday afternoon and evening to register enough players with the Rugby Football Union, having originally been scheduled to name their side at midday.
Gilbert is one of five guest players including lock Ollie Curry, back-row forwards Lewis Barrett and Ethan Parkins and replacement hooker Will Tanner.
Only second-row Graham Kitchener has played so far for Worcester this season. The starting XV also included Ollie Wynn, the scrum-half who has been taken in by Worcester and England centre Ollie Lawrence after he was made homeless when the club’s academy house was repossessed.