Government accused of aiding asset stripping of crisis rugby club Worcester Warriors

EXCLUSIVE: Government accused of aiding asset stripping of crisis rugby club Worcester Warriors… after Sport England approved the transfer of ownership of their stadium to a new company which retains its revenue

  • The government is accused of stripping the assets of the Worcester Warriors
  • Sportsmail have learned details of a major change to Worcester’s rental
  • It seems that this extraordinary decision has jeopardized the plan to sell the club

The government is accused by some creditors of helping to strip Worcester Warriors assets, which has cast doubt on the future of the rugby club.

Sportsmail have learned details of a major change to Worcester’s tenancy at Sixways Stadium which was approved by state body Sport England last month, with owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham transferring ownership of the ground to a new company which will keep the whole day of the club. , hospitality and sponsorship income.

It appears the extraordinary move has jeopardized the club’s proposed sale, threatened business livelihoods and put £15m of taxpayers’ money at risk.

Goldring and Whittingham appear to have legally separated the lucrative parts of Worcester into a separate company, Sixways Stadium Limited, leaving the rugby club to operate separately in a move approved by Sport England.

As a result, they were left without their main sources of income and no way to pay off debts of nearly £30million.

The owners tried to sell the club for most of the summer, but despite claims from interested parties, no deal was reached.

The government is accused by some creditors of helping to strip Worcester’s assets

The club owners have transferred ownership of the Sixways stadium to a new company

The club owners have transferred ownership of the Sixways stadium to a new company

Well-placed sources said yesterday that the process of securing a ‘rough’ legal agreement with the buyers has been hampered by the owners’ desire to retain a 15% stake.

The club’s home opener against Exeter last Sunday was in doubt until the 11th hour, and it is unclear whether they will be able to complete Saturday’s visit to Newcastle.

The Warriors can send a squad to face Gloucester at Kingsholm tonight in the Premiership Cup, but staff met yesterday to discuss the strike and the lack of a final decision leaves the league clash in doubt.

It is unclear whether Worcester Warriors will be able to complete Saturday's visit to Newcastle

It is unclear whether Worcester Warriors will be able to complete Saturday’s visit to Newcastle

Sport England’s involvement in Worcester’s financial affairs stems from the government’s £15million loan in February 2021 under its Covid-19 Sports Survival scheme.

It is understood that around £9million of the loan was used by the owners to pay off debts incurred when buying the club, as well as to secure full ownership of Sixways, which was later acquired by the company real estate owners.

To make Worcester’s plight worse, the terms of the lease were radically changed last month, with Sixways Stadium Ltd being granted the right to ‘hold hospitality events on the property at any time’ and ‘retain proceeds from sales “, according to documents seen by Courrier sportif.

The owners’ property company has also separated the stadium, training center and players’ car park from other land around the complex, which has been mortgaged by another company called Triangle Petroleum for £600,000, at an interest rate by 20%.

As main creditor, Sport England had to approve these changes and confirmed in a waiver signed last month that it retained the ‘first legal charge over Sixways Stadium Ltd’ for less than £14.65million.

A number of creditors have reportedly written to the government expressing their grievances, with one accusing Sport England of asset stripping.

“The club has not received any compensation from Sixways Stadium Ltd for the assignment of its lease,” writes the creditor. “It appears Sport England presided over the asset stripping.

Can Sport England explain why they thought it was in the best interests of the club and the taxpayer?

Sport England reportedly acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s letter, but did not respond in detail. They declined to comment when contacted by Sportsmail, but Whittingham responded by saying: “If you understood any of the genuine details regarding the transactions it would be a lot less interesting and grim.”

“The authentic detail would demonstrate that all actions have always been in the best interests of the club and the community. I will give an accurate version of events in due course.

Contacted by Sportsmail, Whittingham responded, saying: “If you understood any of the genuine details about the transactions it would be a lot less interesting and grim.”

“The authentic detail would demonstrate that all actions have always been in the best interests of the club and the community. I will give an accurate version of events in due course.

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