Sixways Land Key to taking over Worcester – O’Toole

Sixways Land Key to taking over Worcester - O'Toole
Written by admin

Jim O'Toole was interviewed live on BBC Hereford & Worcester on Tuesday morning outside the closed gates of Sixways
Jim O’Toole has worked as a sports consultant since leaving Sixways in 2017 before the current owners took over

Ex-Worcester Warriors boss Jim O’Toole, who heads one of two bidding syndicates for the now-suspended Premiership club, says owning the land at Sixways is key to any deal.

The site and club are under WRFC Trading Limited, whose management is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday.

But much of the land around the ground is now owned by other companies owned by Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring.

“The country has to be a part of it. It’s as simple as that,” said O’Toole.

He told BBC Hereford & Worcester: “It’s about who owns the land and whether the custodian – in carrying out his due diligence and forensic accounting – finds out exactly what is happening to the assets and liabilities.

“That will be the absolute key to it. We cannot run a rugby club without a pitch, car park and fan zone.

“Not only for running the business, but also for the longer term and broader commercial development that will fund the club on a more sustainable basis.”

The accusation of “asset stripping” was false, the owners said

Whittingham and Goldring said in an earlier club statement: “It is absolutely not true that the stadium and country have recently been taken out of the club. It was separate for our entire possessions of the association.

“The accusation that we have made ‘asset stripping’ is completely wrong. Everything we have done is to make the group more stable.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport approved the club directors’ request to place Worcester into administration within two hours on Monday Suspension upheld by Rugby Football Union.

“We are now completely in the hands of the administrator,” said O’Toole.

“Our job now is to sell this admin our vision and plan for the club’s long-term stability and convince him that we are the best option.

“But we had to end the rather chaotic situation where the staff were – in reality – staging matches as a result of a mutiny.

“In 30 years in sport I’ve never seen anything like it,” added the former London Irish chief executive.

Storm clouds over Sixways
Storm clouds have gathered over Sixways since HMRC first issued its threat over an unpaid tax bill in mid-August

Worcester MP Robin Walker last week called for the club to be placed under administration and remains concerned that only WRFC Trading Limited is affected – and not any of the other companies who own the Warriors.

“What is important now is that the administrators do their job,” he told BBC Hereford & Worcester. “Find out exactly what happened and where the money is and also make sure the club’s assets, including surrounding land, can be held together.

“What administrators can do is they can track the money and use of the proceeds from the Sport England loan – they can see all the transactions over the last few years.

“It is very clear that part of a steward’s role is that if he feels a transaction is being done to the detriment of creditors and those to whom the club owes money, then he can reverse that.

“I am assured – and I am speaking to ministers on this – that they are aware of the need for their lawyers and accountants to look into this very carefully.”

The club, owned by Whittingham and Goldring since December 2018, are still facing a dissolution petition from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which is owed over £6million, as well as a long list of other creditors.

How soon could Warriors come back?

Premiership boss Simon Massie-Taylor says sorting out new owners as quickly as possible will be a key factor in whether they are allowed to continue this season.

“You still have time to save the club through the administration process,” he said BBC Radio 5 Live’s weekly rugby union podcast. “There is a credible buyer or a couple of prospects who support the management process. But that has to happen pretty soon.”

After winning their last game before the administration against Newcastle on Saturday, this weekend’s Premiership trip to Gloucester has been canceled – and their next scheduled game at Sixways after that is against Harlequins on October 8.

They then have a planned farewell week – and a more realistic date for a return to action might be the Premiership away game in Bristol on October 22.

“No time limit was set as to how quickly they could get back into the league,” Massie-Taylor added. “But one of the other things to consider is the RFU’s regulations that as soon as you go into administration or have a bankruptcy event, you would do it unless you can show it was a no-fault situation von Covid was relegated the following season and thus into the championship.

“The best case scenario is they find a buyer and can’t prove any fault, so they would play the rest of the season and move on.

“The worst case scenario is they don’t find a buyer and they go bankrupt and start over.

“There are some things that are pretty clear in the regulations, then other things where judgmental decisions need to be made.

“When Worcester is out of the league for a period of time you really question the integrity of them coming back into the competition at a much later stage. And when they leave the league, we want as much time as possible to reschedule dates and everything else.

“It gets more complicated the more weeks, bye weeks, you have in the season.”

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - Sounds

#Sixways #Land #Key #Worcester #OToole

About the author


Leave a Comment