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Finance

Rescue plan drawn up for Worcester Warriors, Sixways

Featured image credit: Worcester Warriors

The company which owns former English Premiership club Worcester Warriors and its Sixways Stadium has been placed into a pre-packaged administration process amid ongoing plans to resurrect the team and return elite rugby union to the venue.

In February 2023, the Atlas Worcester Warriors consortium agreed a deal to acquire the club, which was expelled from the Premiership after entering administration in 2022 and has been inactive since then.

Atlas was subsequently named as the new owner in May 2023 in a £2m (€2.3m/$2.5m) deal, but failed to complete a further £1m payment to relaunch the club. Control then passed to Chris Holland, owner of fellow fallen former Premiership club Wasps, when Atlas failed to pay back a £1.5m loan to his company, Loxwood Holdings.

In May 2023, Loxwood stepped in to financially assist Atlas in its purchase of the Warriors from its administrators. That financial assistance was only intended to be a short-term position to help and assist in the eventual recovery of the Warriors and to allow Wasps a short-term option to play at Sixways in Worcester, as part of their committed relocation to an eventual new stadium in Kent.

Despite Loxwood’s financial assistance, which included providing funding to meet the operational costs of Sixways, Atlas was unable to meet its ongoing financial obligations and has entered into an insolvency process.

With Loxwood now having a 97% stake in Atlas, the company said it was faced with the choice of either liquidating Atlas, which could have resulted in the closure of Sixways, or seek another solution, through a pre-packaged administration process.

Loxwood has opted for the latter, which will aim to ensure the continued trading operation of the stadium, with funding being provided to energise the commercial operation, and at the same time support active steps to preserve and return elite level rugby, as Worcester Warriors.

Loxwood Holdings said: “The newly formed group of companies have been funded by Loxwood with support from the local business community, several of whom have become shareholders in the new group. Our newly formed group of companies will continue to employ all existing staff and actively expand the operations at the stadium.

“All existing and ongoing events and functions will continue uninterrupted. There is no disruption to ongoing stadium operations, and we will be looking to actively expand stadium business to make Sixways the thriving hub it can be.

“Elite level rugby is important to Worcester, and we have had proactive dialogue with the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and the Championship, including giving formal notice to the RFU of the intent to return Worcester Warriors to the second tier of English rugby. We are also exploring other opportunities to play competitive professional rugby at an elite level, including the possibility of a reformed women’s team.”

It added: “We would hope that the community will flood back to Sixways under its new ownership and support what is an amazing sporting and conference and events facility.”

Wasps in February announced it had secured a temporary stadium location in the Greater London/Kent area as it seeks to progress plans for a permanent new home, and a return to play.

Wasps provided an update on its situation after the club in October detailed plans to move to a new stadium in the county of Kent as part of reformation efforts. Wasps was placed into administration on October 17, 2022, with its parent company Wasps Holdings Limited ceasing trading and the club being ejected from the Premiership.