Premiership Rugby

Club Legend Faces Criticism As Wasps Aim For Potential £50 Million Lifeline

Club Legend Faces Criticism As Wasps Aim For Potential £50 Million Lifeline

English Premiership side Wasps RFC look set to be thrown a lifeline amidst their financing horrors that threaten the very existence of the club.

Oct 11, 2022
Club Legend Faces Criticism As Wasps Aim For Potential £50 Million Lifeline

English Premiership side Wasps RFC look set to be thrown a lifeline hopefully bringing an end to their financial horrors that have threatened the very existence of the club.

The lifeline comes in the form of Billionaire Mike Ashley who founded the sporting goods chain 'Sports Direct'. 

Ashley is not new to the world of sports having previously owned Premier League soccer team Newcastle which he sold for £300 million in October 2021.

For Wasps the interest of Ashley is major step forward as the club reportedly has two other bids on the table.

Former Wasps chief executive David Armstrong is spearheading a bid with investment group Terminum Capital whilst the Birmingham based NEC group has put a bid forward a bid to purchase club assets including the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Focusing on Ashley’s bid to purchase the club and the arena, reports have linked him to a return to football with Coventry City Football Club who have a ten-year lease with the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Now an urgent matter as Wasps reportedly have to pay a £2 million tax bill imminently or they will face a winding up notice similar to that handed down to Worcester Warriors.

In addition to the winding down notice, Wasps owe £35 million to bondholders which was used to finance the purchase of the stadium following their move from London in 2014.

Alongside the bids above that have been publicised it is understood that there are two other potential bids from unknown sources.  

As the bidding process plays out, time is of the essence for the midlands club.  

Should Wasps face this winding down notice and subsequently be placed into administration they too will join Worcester Warriors in being relegated from the top flight competition.

 Issuing a statement in relation to the potential bids, Wasps said the following.

“Since filing the original notice of intention on 21 September, a number of additional potential investors and funders have come forward.” 

"Discussions are now at a relatively advanced stage, and we remain hopeful of securing a deal that will allow the group, and the entities that sit within it, to move forward.

"We would like to thank all stakeholders for their engagement during this process, and in particular the constructive support and approach provided by the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and PRL (Premiership Rugby). 

"This will continue to be vitally important as negotiations with interested parties proceed and we remain in regular dialogue with both organisations.

"While the financial circumstances facing the group are extremely challenging, we remain optimistic about a positive outcome and will keep our players, staff, supporters, partners, bond holders and suppliers updated as this process moves forward."

Whilst the bids get considered and the club continue to navigate their way forward, former club captain Lawrence Dallaglio has come under severe criticism for his take on the club’s future.

Speaking on the highly popular ‘Rugby Tonight’ show, Dallaglio said the club should be dealt with in a different to fellow Premiership club Worcester Warriors who have already been placed into administration.

Wasps is one of the oldest clubs in English rugby, having been founded in 1867 in Hampstead, London.

“They [RFU] will say that any club that's in administration has to go the same way as Worcester,” Dallaglio said.

“But the reality is, do you want to lose one of the biggest brands in club rugby, in world rugby and one of the brands that's been one of the most successful sides in the Premiership? Let's hope it doesn't come to that.”

Dallaglio’s comments were met with immediate backlash as fans and pundits alike did not agree that the club should receive preferential treatment.

Written by Philip Bendon