Wasps given green light for Championship return, groundshare deal in place

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Wasps Rugby will compete in the second-tier Championship for the 2023-24 season after fully satisfying Rugby Football Union requirements, with a groundshare agreement having been reached with an unnamed Midlands venue.

Wasps was placed into administration on October 17 and it emerged earlier this month that the former Premiership club’s debts totalled £95m (€109m/$116m).

HALO22 Limited, a company owned by Christopher Holland, recently completed the purchase of the intellectual property, history and memorabilia of Wasps RFC, which saw the club exit administration.

Andy Scott, a former chief executive of 188Bet and interim chief executive of the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation, has been named chief executive of the club. He will be supported by former players including Kenny Logan and Peter Scrivener, as well as a new main board of senior-level executives.

The new management group has submitted a long-term business plan to the RFU, which has been approved under the governing body’s fit and proper person’s test. As a result, Wasps will compete in the Championship in 2023-24.

As part of proposals accepted by the RFU, a groundshare agreement has been reached with a Midlands venue to host the club’s games. The venue will be announced in the near future.

Scott said: “We are proud and delighted to secure the future of this great club. Wasps is a famous and highly regarded name in the history of English and European rugby and while this is a new venture and a fresh start, it is fundamentally built on the same values that brought the club success and respect in its heyday.”

Wasps previously played at the Coventry Building Society Arena, which is now owned by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group. Championship football club Coventry City also plays at the stadium and recently agreed a deal to stay at the venue for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

While the RFU approved Wasps’ application to form a phoenix entity for the club, it has rejected a proposal from Worcester Warriors, which was placed into administration in September.

The RFU said it put forward a number of conditions that the bidders for Worcester would need to meet to protect against the concerns relating to the club and what had emerged through the due diligence process. The RFU said that bidders have informed the body that they are not prepared to meet these conditions, meaning that their application cannot be accepted.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “We are pleased to be able to proceed with the approval for Wasps and thank the bid team and the administrator for the open and collaborative approach working with us through the process.   

“We understand that the decision will not be the news that Worcester Warriors’ former staff, players and fans will want to hear; the best long-term interests of the club and rugby in Worcester is our key priority.   

“In the coming days we will be in touch with the administrator to discuss other bid options as our goal remains to support the continuation of the rugby club in Worcester. We are prepared to extend the deadlines to explore if an alternative bidder can be found who has the continuation of rugby in Worcester central to its business plan.”