Wasps situation looks critical under administration threat

London Wasps are facing the real threat of relegation from the Aviva Premiership at the end of this season if they cannot find new investment by the end of the month. According to ESPNScrum.com, the club needs to bring in a long-term backer by the end of this season, or it will fall into administration.

The two-time Heineken Cup champions looked set to survive their financial threat back in February when four parties were allegedly interested in taking over the club from owner Steve Hayes. But two months later, if Wasps do fall into administration then they will be deducted 15 points, which given their current position 8 points above Newcastle at the bottom of the table would see them drop down into the Championship. The financial pressures that would further put on the club with decreased match day and television revenue makes the future even more uncertain.

It has been by all accounts a hellish season for the club, with an absurd injury list and the enforced retirement of key leaders in Tom Rees, Steve Thompson and Joe Worsley. The club’s owner, Hayes, put the club up for sale in July last year, when the project for a new Sports Complex and Stadium in Wycombe was turned down by the local Council. Given that Wasps currently own neither their ground or training facilities, they have no key assets to sell off apart from their squad.

The news of the stalled negotiations with a key investor comes a week after the Metropolitan Police announced that Hayes had been arrested back in February as part of a computer-hacking investigation, and remains a suspect in their inquiries.

London Wasps Chairman Mark Rigby said: “London Wasps has a long and successful history, and is one of the best known brands in the game, and the board is convinced that the right backer exists. With a great squad in place and the excellent Dai Young at the helm, we believe we are set to make a strong impact next season. Time is however short and we urgently need a new investor or consortium to back this belief.”


14 thoughts on “Wasps situation looks critical under administration threat

  1. This is all far more serious than we first thought. To have worked so hard in recent weeks to create the gap at the bottom between themselves and Newcastle and then be relegated due to a points deduction would be a bitter pill to swallow.

  2. Absolutely agreed Ben. It is also probably worth noting that, even if they were to be hit by a points deduction, they wouldn’t necessarily go down.

    Out of the four teams left competing for promotion from the Championship, Bristol are the only side to have the required facilities. London Welsh and Bedford may have some plans up their sleeves (ie ground-sharing), but Cornish Pirates definitely won’t have their new stadium fit in time – the owner said it wouldn’t be ready until the 2013/14 season at the earliest.

    The deadline for applying for the promotion audit was the 31st March, but beyond that the RFU will not reveal any further information. Might be worth giving the clubs an ask.

    Obviously regardless of whether they’ll be promoted/relegated these are bad times for Wasps – but sticking in the Premiership will certainly make them a much more attractive club to invest in.

    1. The rules have been slackened slightly. It used to be that the facilities had to be in place. Now it is sufficient for realistic plans to be in place. London Welsh and Bedford therefore can get promoted.

      1. In that case surely Cornish Pirates’ plan to have a stadium fit for Premiership rugby ready by the 2013/14 season could be a realistic plan in place?

          1. To clarify, it used to be that the facilities had to be in place when the team won promotion. Now it is that they will have the facilities in place by the time they start playing in the Premiership and that the plan is there and set in stone by the time they win promotion. Therefore Pirates would have to show that they will have Premiership standard facilities in place by the start of next season which it sounds like they won’t.

            Moot point anyway because I think there’s very little chance of Pirates winning promotion anyway. Bedford and Bristol are the two best teams in the league although Welsh have been in great form in the play offs and could spring an upset.

  3. This must be absolutely heartbreaking for Wasps fans, and is truly sobering for the rest of us. For the club which was a real powerhouse of English and European rugby to have gone from that position to their current predicament so quickly shows how reliant the Premiership is on big money backers to keep it propped up. I can’t help but feel this is still a hangover from the rushed and chaotic transition to professionalism in the 90s that saw many other clubs go bust.

    This must have had an impact on their season (as well as their injury list) – not knowing whether you’ll have a job at the end of it cannot be all that inspiring…

  4. Awful news this. When you think how good Wasps were merely 5 years ago it is extraordinary how far they have fallen. Their injury list has been ridiculous and something you simply can’t legislate for. Without that a 15 point deduction would probably only have had the effect of missing out on Heinken Cup rugby.

    It is not entirely clear how it came to this. Was it poor management, lack of facilities (their training facilities are pretty poor and going to Adams Park is not the most uplifting experience) impacting on revenues, lack of a clear support base or just all round poor financial planning. Someone surely must have the money and inclination to save such an institution but as Ben says, given that they have no assets besides the players it has to be someone with philanthropic motivations because they are unlikely to make much money out of it.

  5. I never really understood why they seemed to keep replacing genuine class with mediocrity throughout their squad but the finances seem to explain that. You have to respect the young talent they keep bringing through (Daily, Launchbury, Wade etc) but these lads aren’t yet up to maintaining a successful campaign.

    Stephen Jones seems a strange signing seeing as Nicky Robinson at 10 is probably one of their strongest starters (i haven’t actually watched them that much is he going well for them?)

    Next year the return of Palmer and Haskell along with Ashley Johnson should add some serious grit to their pack if they make it through all these off-field issues.

  6. Personally i think this has all been overstated to gain a quicker response from investors, otherwise its stupid to announce this and then a few days later announce the signing of such a notable player.

  7. Wasps have been crippled by an unbelieveable injury list and the retirement of 5 first choice players, which goes to explain their league position.

    The poor financial planning, as well as the lack of tangible assets and baffling decision to move to Wycombe has been their down fall. The failure to attract sufficient investment when they were at the top of their game exposed them to the situation where they were solely reliant on a benefactor, and when that happens you are really in trouble. Moving to Wycombe, far from bringing in a new supporter base just alienated older fans, and the lack of ground and training facilities hasn’t helped their cause either.

  8. Wasps are another club to be bitten by the bad end of the two headed professional monster.

    Imagine they did go down and all their new signings still played for them in the championship. Of course it is highly unlikely, but wouldn’t that be a sight to see.

  9. Would be a great shame to see such a big club fall from grace. I think its utterly disgraceful that the RFU won’t offer a rescue package when you consider that just a few short years ago they were waving the English flag very successfully in the Heineken cup and if not winning then challenging for the premiership. When you consider the amount of England players they have produced over the years, Dallaligo, Worsley, Haskell, Simpson, Cipriani and revived Sackey and Fluteys careers and made them into what they became, it seem silly that they would just let them fall. The financial situation at the club has been bad for a number of years and with their budget they should have been in this position for a number of years. Its finally caught up with them and in a big way.

    What Wasps need to do and any new investor should look to do, is take the club back to West London in whatever way possible. West London is a hot bed of English rugby and with such an affluent population and close proximity to City fat cats, they would be ideally situated to regrow their fan base and appeal to a wide range of audiences. Equally, the corporate sales will be huge, as look at how successful Quins have been with such sales as the only London club. Lets face it, who wants to travel an hour out of London to Wycombe anyway?

    1. Personally if i owned Wasps I’d have approached LOGOC to be a joint tenant for the Olympic stadium.

      The east end/Essex market is untapped and could provide Wasps with quite a good fan base and somewhere to set up a new academy structure.

      However if the RFU did a rescue package how many other clubs would want a similar deal. It wouldn’t be fair. They’ve been a victim of Wycombe council and as a result they should move away and revive themselves elsewhere.

      I don’t think one year in the championship would be too much of a problem. It would allow them to rebuild and then move on from there.

      I still however maintain that i think their situation has been overstated to get an investor on board quicker.

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