Rugby-Worcester players, staff to have contracts terminated

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership Rugby Cup Final - London Irish v Worcester Warriors - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - May 17, 2022 Worcester players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Premiership Rugby Cup Final Action Images/Paul Childs/File Photo

(Reuters) -Worcester Warriors players and staff are set to have their contracts terminated after part of the English Premiership club was wound up in the high court on Wednesday.

The court instructed that WRFC Players Ltd, through which players and staff are paid, be liquidated. The decision means that they are free to join other clubs.

Worcester, who were served with a winding-up order over unpaid tax reportedly worth six million pounds ($6.78 million), went into administration last month after failing to meet a Rugby Football Union (RFU) deadline to prove they could operate amid financial difficulties.

They were also suspended from all competitions.

"This is a very sad day for rugby in England. Our thoughts are with all of the Worcester Warriors players, staff and supporters," RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said in a statement.

Steve Diamond, Worcester director of rugby, likened the club's plight to the Titanic.

"This is the darkest day for English rugby. We thought we could turn the tanker around but it's ended up like the Titanic, sadly," he wrote on Twitter.

"The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen. The RFU/PRL band played in the back ground. There are a privileged few who have jobs."

The team, who finished 11th last season, faces the prospect of relegation from the Premiership, with a decision likely in the coming days.

Worcester's co-owners said last month that they had found three interested buyers and the deal was moving at a "rapid pace".

They met a deadline to provide assurances they could safely host games amid the financial turmoil before the RFU asked the club to come up with a credible plan to avoid suspension.

"The RFU will continue to speak to the administrators, and potential buyers, during the course of the next 24 hours to understand the possibility of a buyer taking over the club in time for the men's team to participate in the Gallagher Premiership during season 2022/23," added Sweeney.

Worcester picked up their first win of the season with a 39-5 thrashing of Newcastle Falcons last month following defeat in their opening two games.

($1 = 0.8855 pounds)

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in BengaluruEditing by Christian Radnedge)

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