Wasps & Worcester: Rob Andrew calls for Premiership and RFU to join forces amid cash crisis

Rob Andrew served Wasps as a player before working at the RFU

Rob Andrew believes Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union should join forces in order to address financial problems within the game.

“This has come to a watershed,” said the former Wasps and England fly-half.

“The RFU and Premiership Rugby have to get together and work out how this is going to go forward.”

Andrew told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Ultimately this is a failing of the governance of the game – both the Premiership owners and the RFU to a degree. But to be fair to the RFU, they have no visibility on these businesses.

“And that’s the thing, the two have to come together and find a new way. They have to do this. We’ve had clubs go bust before – London Scottish, Richmond, London Welsh – but not of the scale of this and the devastation.”

Wasps have twice filed notice to get insolvency experts in to help with their debts, which run to tens of millions of pounds.

The Coventry-based club will not fulfil this Saturday’s Premiership game at Exeter and say they expect to enter administration “within days”.

Worcester were suspended and relegated to the Championship for next season last week, a day after players and staff had their contracts terminated, though the club are appealing against the punishments.

Wasps would also face relegation were they to go into administration as, under RFU rules, any club that enters administration is automatically relegated next season unless they can prove it was a no-fault insolvency.

Wasps had been hopeful of securing new funding to help with a £35m debt owed to bond holders following their relocation from London in 2014, as well as HM Revenue and Customs pursuing them for unpaid taxes.

Andrew had two spells at Wasps as a player and later held senior roles at the RFU, first as director of elite rugby and then director of professional rugby.

He believes financial problems in the game have been brewing for some time.

“It’s probably been coming. The game has not been on a solid footing for quite some time,” added Andrew.

“This is unsustainable and you can’t have a professional sport that falls into this point where two very big clubs go into administration, and the consequences of that are just not acceptable. It needs resolving.

“I was at the RFU for 10 years, part of that trying to get hold of this by the scruff of the neck. The challenge is that Premiership clubs are effectively self-governing and are privately-owned businesses.

“The irony is that the rugby on the field, from the players and coaches, has probably never been better. But these are private businesses and they’re getting into financial difficulty.”

Analysis – Wasps ‘will regret moving to Coventry’

BBC CWR rugby commentator Richard Moon

I think they will regret it. It was a bold move to come to Coventry [in 2014]. Their historic roots are in north London and they’ve tried various other homes which didn’t work out.

With hindsight, I think they’ll reflect back and maybe perhaps this wasn’t the best route for them. That doesn’t make anybody feel particularly great, but history will tell.

Before the start of the season I met up with [Wasps head coach] Lee Blackett. He was very upbeat. There were a lot of financial rumours swirling around at that time but he was very hopeful for the future.

Wasps as a club, with its 155-year history, I would want to survive in whatever form it is and wherever it is.

Uncertainty facing players ‘the worst thing’ – Beck

Ashley BeckAshley Beck joined Worcester from Ospreys before the 2018-19 season and scored nine tries in 60 appearances

Former Wales centre Ashley Beck knows only too well the turbulent times likely to be ahead for Wasps’ players when the club goes into administration.

Beck, 32, is going through the process having seen his contract at Worcester cancelled amidst the financial meltdown at Sixways.

“You’re waiting and burying your head in the sand. You have families that you have to give hope to. Lots of questions go through your head,” he told BBC CWR.

“You say goodbye to people because other jobs turn up. Boys who have got other things seems a bit embarrassed because they’re talking to others who haven’t.

“When something like this happens, suddenly and you think ‘what am I going to do next?’ You wake up and until you find something, you’re waiting on uncertainty and that’s the worst thing.”

Beck’s young family have settled in Worcester and he and his wife had planned to start a business, but Warriors’ demise has thrown that in doubt and he has a lot of sympathy for the Wasps players who now face a similar predicament.

“100% – the only thing you can do is look after yourself and not think too much about the what the club’s going through because you can’t take anyone’s word for it – you don’t know,” he said.

“Until you go into administration you don’t know the damage that’s been done. At Worcester we could’ve been told at the start of August that this was the case and it would’ve put everyone in a better position.”


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