Players from crisis-hit Worcester have contracts terminated

LONDON (AP) — Players and staff of English top-flight rugby team Worcester Warriors will have their contracts terminated after the club was partially liquidated on Wednesday.

Britain’s tax authority is pursuing Worcester, which is currently suspended from all competitions, for unpaid tax in the region of 6 million pounds ($6.8 million). Owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have been accused of asset-stripping the club from central England, whose men’s team has been in the Premiership since 2015.

In the High Court in London, judge Nicholas Briggs instructed that WRFC Players Ltd, a subsidiary through which players and some staff are paid, be wound up.

Four players, including club captain Ted Hill and England international Ollie Lawrence, have already joined Bath on loan and other players will have their contracts terminated along with members of staff.

Going into liquidation has brought their departure forward, with all players previously told they could leave on Oct. 14 because they had not been paid for September.

“What an unbelievably sad day for everyone in Worcester,” Hill wrote on Twitter. “A club who meant so much to everyone has gone the direction none of us wanted it to. A place where I played my rugby from 14 years of age and met so many people who mean so much to me and my family.

“There will be nothing written,” Hill added, “for the people who put us in this situation but to the governing bodies of rugby, something needs to change so that this doesn’t happen to any club again. Thank you Worcester for everything.”

Worcester’s director of rugby, Steve Diamond, wrote on Twitter that it was “the darkest day for English rugby.”

“We thought we could turn the tanker around,” Diamond wrote, “but it’s ended up like the Titanic, sadly. The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen.”

England’s Rugby Football Union held out some hope that a buyer could be found, although the club now faces automatic relegation to the Championship due to being placed in compulsory liquidation.

An application from administrators to have the relegation canceled will be assessed in due course.


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