‘Who else might that happen to?’: Ugo Monye fears for other clubs with Wasps set to enter administration

Wasps are set to enter administration a week after Worcester Warriors were wound up

Harry Latham-Coyle
Friday 14 October 2022 14:48 BST
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<p>Wasps have been suspended from the Gallagher Premiership </p>

Wasps have been suspended from the Gallagher Premiership

Former Harlequins and England wing Ugo Monye has admitted that he fears for other Gallagher Premiership clubs with Wasps set to enter administration.

The Coventry-based club have been suspended from the Premiership, deepening the league’s financial crisis after Worcester Warriors were wound up last week.

Wasps’ weekend fixture against Exeter at Sandy Park will not be fulfilled and the club expect to enter administration “within days” having accumulated debts worth tens of millions of pounds.

A joint statement from Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on Thursday said that the two bodies were “working together to examine a range of options” including the structure of the English top tier and greater financial transparency.

But amid rumours of other clubs potentially facing looming financial trouble, Monye has revealed an “element of uncertainty” inside squads after the collapse of two of the Premiership’s 13 teams.

“You think if that can happen to a club the size of Wasps, who else might that happen to?” Monye told BBC Radio Five Live.

“I think there is that element of uncertainty [inside clubs], I think that would be a natural response. Speaking to [England scrum-half] Danny Care, he said that the owners of Harlequins, Duncan Saville and Charles Jillings, came in and talked through their finances.

“These are conversations which players ordinarily wouldn’t be having. Finances would normally be distilled and located to ‘what am I getting paid every month? What is my contract length and what is that worth?’

“Now people are having to have a broader sense of the club’s finances and sustainability. Worcester seems to have had this butterfly effect. Of course they’re separate and not one affects the other, but within a couple of weeks, Wasps.”

The Premiership had been set to expand to 14 teams at the end of the 2022/23 season, provided the winner of the Championship met the minimum standards criteria required for promotion.

But, having potentially lost two sides little more than a month into the new season, the RFU and PRL are said to be considering proposals for a ten-team Premiership in a bid to secure the league’s financial future.

The plan, which is reported to have been gaining support among clubs, could include a professionalised second division and greater oversight from the two bodies.

A reduction in the number of top tier clubs has been publicly backed by Pat Lam and Rob Baxter, directors of rugby at Bristol and Exeter respectively.

The RFU’s chief executive, Bill Sweeney, said: “Two professional clubs facing financial difficulties is a clear barometer of the challenges being felt by the economy, sport and rugby union specifically.

“The economic environment has compounded these challenges and there is a clear need for more financial transparency from all clubs together with collective long-term investment and planning for the benefit of the professional game overall.”

A number of former Worcester players have already signed deals with other clubs, including Ollie Lawrence and Ted Hill at Bath and Fin Smith at Northampton.

A report in The Times now suggests that any Wasps or Worcester players who are forced to sign deals with overseas clubs could still be considered for England selection through to next year’s World Cup.

The RFU’s regulations specify that players must be based in England to be selected for the national side, but agreement has reportedly been reached that would allow an exception given the current crisis.

Eddie Jones names his England squad for the Autumn Internationals on Monday 17 October.

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