English rugby plunged into fresh crisis after 'terrible' development

Pictured centre, Wasps star Jack Willis walks off the field after his side's Premiership defeat to Northampton.
Iconic English rugby club Wasps were placed into administration one week after their Premiership defeat to Northampton. Pic: Getty

The crisis in English rugby has hit a fresh low, with Premiership outfit Wasps becoming the second top-tier club to enter administration in three weeks.

Wasps were on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) placed into administration, meaning a staggering 167 employees - including players, coaches and staff - have been made redundant.

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The Coventry-based side were suspended from the crisis-torn top flight last week after revealing they were likely to go into administration.

Confirmation of the club's fate came in a statement from administrators FRP, which said Wasps Holdings Limited - the holding company for the men's and women's rugby teams, as well as Wasps netball - had "ceased trading with immediate effect".

Seen here, the home ground of Wasps rugby club which has been placed into administration.
The Wasps rugby club has been placed into administration and have immediately ceased trading. Pic: Getty

The grim news came after fellow Premiership club Worcester was also placed into administration, with the league now operating as an 11-team competition.

Wasps' clash against Exeter - which was scheduled for a Saturday kick-off in England - has subsequently been called off.

The four-time Premiership champions were hit by a winding-up order from tax authorities for £2 million ($AUD3.6 million) in unpaid tax and they also faced having to repay a £35 million ($AUD63.16 million) bond that had helped finance Wasps' relocation to Coventry, in the Midlands, during 2014.

The administrators said a small number of employees had been retained to help with the "orderly wind down of the company" and the operation of the CBS Arena, which is unaffected by administration and continues to trade as normal.

Joint administrator Andrew Sheridan described the latest development as "a dark day for English rugby".

"We know this will be devastating news for every Wasps player and member of staff, past players, sponsors, and their thousands of supporters throughout the world, and anyone who has ever been involved with this great club," he said.

"Our immediate focus is on supporting those who have lost their jobs this morning."

Sheridan said the board and others at Wasps had "worked tirelessly" to find a solution but had failed to achieve that aim.

He said administrators remained confident that a deal could be reached to allow the club to continue.

It is understood that employees were told of the latest developments during meetings on Monday at Wasps' training ground and the CBS Arena.

Wasps' playing squad includes England internationals Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis, who was named in England's Autumn Nations Series squad on Monday, Dan Robson and Brad Shields.

Wasps have been ever present in the Premiership since the competition began 25 years ago, winning it in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

They were also crowned European champions twice, in addition to achieving one European Challenge Cup triumph, and have fielded some of England's most well-known players during rugby union's professional era.

England's 2003 World Cup-winning squad featured five Wasps players - Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey, Stuart Abbott, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley.

Wasps development rocks rugby world

Former Wasps fly-half Andy Goode tweeted: "Exceptionally sad day for @WaspsRugby as they go into administration. A club I loved my time with on and off the field. Thoughts with every player, member of staff and fan at the minute. Hopefully the club finds new investment and can bounce back asap."

Goode's comments were echoed by shattered fans across the rugby world.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney on Sunday threw the organisation's support behind a 10-team Premiership to help solve the financial crisis gripping the English top flight.

"I don't know if 10 is the absolute number but that's the one being used now, but in that and the central distribution around broadcast and commercial revenues, clearly there's a financial benefit for fewer teams in that league," he said.

with agencies

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