England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the top division Premiership have announced plans to review the league’s structure and introduce greater financial transparency in a joint statement on Thursday in the wake of financial crises at Wasps and Worcester Warriors.
Wasps, one of only four ever-present teams in the Premiership, are set to enter administration after being suspended from the top flight and are facing relegation to the Championship, a week after Worcester were wound up.
“Two professional clubs facing financial difficulties is a clear barometer of the challenges being felt by the economy, sport and rugby union specifically,” RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said.
“The economic environment has compounded these challenges and there is a clear need for more financial transparency from all clubs together with collective long-term investment and planning for the benefit of the professional game overall.”
Former Premiership and European champions Wasps were due to repay £35 million in May from a bond scheme used to help finance their relocation from London to Coventry and purchase a lease on their stadium.
Worcester, who went into administration in September, were suspended from all competitions last week and relegated to the Championship for next season, a day after players and staff had their contracts terminated when part of the club was liquidated.
They were served with a winding-up petition over unpaid tax, reportedly worth more than £6m, in August and were given a £14m loan by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As well as supporting efforts to find a long-term sustainable future for both Wasps and Worcester Warriors, it is our responsibility to set a more sustainable path for English club rugby,” Premiership Chief Executive Simon Massie-Taylor said.
“We need to now accelerate the work we are doing with our clubs, the RFU, and other stakeholders across the game. Our shared goal must be to put in place stronger foundations that underpin the long-term prosperity for the sport in this country.”