Worcester Warriors: Atlas sale must be confirmed by 2 May, say administrators

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General view of a stand at Sixways Stadium
Worcester Warriors started the 2022-23 Premiership season, but were suspended from the competition in October after part of the club was wound up

New Worcester Warriors owners Atlas have been warned that the sale of the club must go through by 2 May.

Begbies Traynor, the former Premiership club’s administrators, has issued a 27-page progress report outlining the work it has done since first being appointed last September.

In it, media speculation of a 90-day completion clause has been confirmed.

This dates back to when Atlas partners Jim O’Toole and James Sandford were officially appointed on 1 February.

Former Worcester Warriors CEO Jim O'Toole at Sixways
Jim O’Toole previously stood down as Worcester chief executive in June 2017

Since then, Atlas have withdrawn their application to play in next season’s Championship and attempted a form of merger with fellow Worcestershire club side Stourbridge, in an attempt to avoid having to restart too far down English rugby’s pyramid.

They also outlined a plan to rebrand as Sixways Rugby, although that upset so many supporters that they quickly had to do a U-turn.

They then said at a public meeting at Sixways on 18 February that an agreement in principle had been struck for fellow financially stricken neighbours Wasps to play at the ground next season.

But, despite requests to talk to both O’Toole and Sandford, nothing has been said publicly from either club since. And, although verbal agreements are supposedly in place for Warriors’ women’s team and local non-league football side Worcester Raiders to utilise the artificial pitch at Sixways, they are both subject to the Warriors takeover being confirmed on 2 May.

Fellow bidder Steve Diamond, the former Worcester director of rugby – whose own bid was not taken up by Begbies Traynor – is currently out of the running, having taken up a consultancy role with Edinburgh.

But that was only a short-term appointment until the end of the season – and it has also been reported that he, in a proposed alliance with main former club sponsor Adam Hewitt, remains a serious contender.

Analysis – Highlights of Begbies Traynor report

Trevor Owens, BBC Hereford & Worcester sports editor

The progress report has been produced by the administrators, solely to comply with their statutory duty to report to creditors.

They confirm that Atlas paid an exclusivity fee of £500,000 as a non-refundable deposit – and that completion is due on or before 2 May.

It is also stipulated that Atlas cannot dispose of Sixways Stadium, or the land surrounding it, for five years after completion.

Begbies Traynor also says the concept of rugby creditors does not exist under the act. In fact, it is fundamentally at odds with certain insolvency principles.


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