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RFU move goalposts for Wasps and Warriors to return

NEWS UPDATE: The Rugby Football Union has once again ‘moved the goalposts’ for the return of suspended Premiership clubs Wasps and Worcester Warriors.

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The RFU extended the deadline for the potential new owners of Wasps and Worcester to prove they meet the requirements to compete at the professional level of the game.

It was hinted that both Wasps and Worcester could return to the second tier for the 2023/24 season.

However, neither has fully satisfied the RFU’s requirements.

The RFU has bow set a fresh deadline by which time they have to guarantee to English Rugby HQ that they will definitely be ready for business next term.

The new deadline is mid-February.

The owners of both clubs have to have their respective takeovers fully completed so that they can be given the go-ahead to compete in next season’s Championship.

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The two outfits were kicked out of the Premiership after going bankrupt at the start of the 2022/23 season.

It resulted in the RFU reducing the Premiership to an 11-team competition.

“The RFU has informed the new owners of Wasps RFC and the administrators of WRFC Trading Limited [the main operating entity of Worcester Warriors RFC] that they have until 14 February to conclude their negotiations and provide evidence that they have met the relevant conditions set,” a statement read.

“This is a significant extension to the original mid-December timeline to provide the clubs with the best possible chance of being in the Championship next year.

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“However, a final deadline must be set to provide certainty to the Championship and National League clubs, players and other rugby stakeholders over the format of next season.

“In the case of Wasps, the RFU board conditionally approved the takeover but not all the conditions set have yet been met, including the lodging of a bond and the signing of an agreement which commits the new club to the relevant conditions. Both would need to be done by the deadline for the approval to remain in place.

Worcester finally has new owners after the administrators struck a deal with the Atlas group headed up by James Sandford and Jim O’Toole.

“The proposed buyers of Worcester Warriors had informed the RFU that they were not prepared to meet the conditions set, which included commitments not to dispose of land around Sixways Stadium without approval and were unable to satisfy the RFU of the sources and sufficiency of funding.

“The RFU was not able to confirm the suitability of the prospective owners. Therefore, the RFU board was unable to approve their application. If that position changes within the deadline, the RFU will be able to reconsider whether the application can be approved, but if not, then unfortunately the RFU decision will remain the same.”

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