'Onerous' RFU terms scaring off prospective Premiership buyers
SPOTLIGHT: The prospective new owners of cash-strapped English club Worcester have accused the Rugby Football Union of “seeking to impose onerous operational conditions” on their bid.
Atlas Worcester Warriors RFC Limited also said Thursday that the “conditions, commercial restrictions and barriers” would prevent Worcester’s admission to the second-tier Championship next season.
Both Worcester and Wasps were relegated from the top-flight Premiership in October after they entered administration as a result of large unpaid tax bills.
The knock-on effect was immediate, with a 13-team league reduced to 11 and players at the two clubs scrambling to find new employers.
But there are now doubts over whether Worcester will be granted even Championship status ahead of next season.
“The RFU board will be meeting to discuss this matter on Friday and we won’t be commenting formally on a decision which has not been made,” a spokesperson for the English game’s governing body said Thursday.
Atlas, whose founding directors are former Worcester Warriors Chief Executive Jim O’Toole and James Sandford, Chief Executive of Atlas Sports Tech, are adamant the RFU were initially satisfied with their financial set-up.
But they said Thursday that Twickenham chiefs had now raised questions over their financial “due diligence” that were unjustified.
“The RFU are now seeking to impose onerous operational conditions, commercial restrictions and barriers that would prevent our participation in the RFU Championship for the 2023/24 season and seeking to rely on a lack of ‘financial due-diligence’, which in our view is patently untrue,” Atlas said.
The RFU are set to announce a decision on the status of the Atlas offer on Friday.