Former Worcester Warriors CEO Jim O’Toole believes a newly formed consortium can save the club from administration. O’Toole is leading the takeover bid, which is being led by a US company with additional backing from Worcester businesses.
On Tuesday afternoon, he took another step forward following positive conversations with both the American investors and the club’s administrator.
“Things happened quickly over the last 24 hours,” O’Toole told the PA news agency. “The group on the ground pulled together some thoughts on what a sustainable long-term business plan would look like, using the assets of the club, the land, the stadium etc.
“Then I had a meeting with my American client this afternoon and they said: ‘We’d really like to see if we can help. We’d like to be part of that consortium, can you please go ahead and push whatever buttons you need to do to start that process.’”
And after a subsequent meeting with the administrator, O’Toole said: “We now are very clear on what we need to get to the stage where we can get a rapid decision from the stakeholders involved.”
The Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premiership Rugby, and investors CVC Capital Partners, as well as Warriors administrators, are among those involved.
Worcester is reportedly on the verge of going bankrupt after HM Revenue & Customs issued a winding-up petition last week for unpaid tax.
Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, the owners, said they are still in talks with HMRC, Premiership Rugby, the RFU, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.
While O’Toole wouldn’t directly name the potential US investors, he said they have “multiple interests in sport, but they are a true conglomerate with fingers in many pies and interests in many industries”.
They became interested in the Warriors’ situation, he said, when the club’s story came up during a meeting about a separate sports marketing project – at the same time, O’Toole was approached by a local Worcester businessman who asked if he could help.
“It’s a strong commercial proposition,” he said. “Because despite the pickle that the current owners put themselves into, they had some very clever ideas as to how to monetise the venue and the club. Some of those will definitely be ideas that can be salvaged and developed in a slightly different way.”