Why have Wasps applied to appoint an administrator – and what happens next?

·3 min read
Tom West (left) and Zach Kibirige look dejected following Wasps' defeat to Lyon - Why have Wasps applied to appoint an administrator – and what happens next? - GETTY IMAGES
Tom West (left) and Zach Kibirige look dejected following Wasps' defeat to Lyon - Why have Wasps applied to appoint an administrator – and what happens next? - GETTY IMAGES

On one of English rugby's darkest days, Wasps on Wednesday confirmed that they had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, a move that sent shockwaves around the domestic game.

Alongside Worcester's travails, Wasps' plight had disappeared somewhat under the radar in comparison; but it had been simmering for the last six months.

As with most bombshell announcements, however, the Wasps news has thrown up more questions than answers.

Here, Telegraph Sport answers some of the most burning.

Why do Wasps intend to appoint an administrator?

This all centres around £35 million worth of bonds that the West Midlands club took out after purchasing the Coventry Building Society (then Ricoh) Arena in 2014.

Bondholders should have been repaid in May, after they stumped up the cash to allow Wasps to raise money for their business and pay off debts.

The problem, however, is that those investors have not yet been repaid and, theoretically, could call the bond in at any time.

A Wasps statement released late on Wednesday said that filing a notice of intention to appoint administrators "does not mean the business is in administration but provides a crucial period of grace to continue negotiations with a number of interested parties to secure the long-term future of the group".

It would seem, therefore, that Wasps require time. Regardless, the threat of administration must be looming.

What happens next?

The answer is uncertain but, also in that statement, Wasps added that the "day-to-day operations of the business are unaffected, and we will continue to support our players, staff, supporters, bond holders and suppliers, and keep them fully updated".

A Rugby Football Union spokesperson added: "The RFU is in dialogue with Wasps, we will work with them to understand the current action, their sustainability plans and what the next steps will be."

Premiership Rugby are yet to comment on the matter, but the situation regarding Wasps' league status will surely have to be clarified in the coming days.

What does the long-term future hold?

There are many unknowns at present but, in this area, there is historical precedent, at least. At the end of the 1999 season, Richmond and London Scottish were forced into administration, with the professional arms of those clubs merging with London Irish.

The amateur arms of the clubs were left to pick up the pieces, with both outfits relegated an unprecedented nine divisions by the Rugby Football Union to the bottom of the league pyramid.

This cut the 14-team Premiership to 12 teams. Both sides have since worked their way back to the Championship, the second tier of English club rugby, although the tier structure has been modified by the RFU since 1999.

Furthermore, both Richmond and London Scottish called in the administrators towards the back end of the season. There is no precedent for a Premiership club to fall into administration so early in a season.

In the short term, can they continue playing? Or will they be relegated immediately?

Again, the answer is unclear, but there is slightly more optimism for Wasps based on historical precedent.

Richmond went into voluntary administration in March of the 1998/99 season and yet still fulfilled their fixtures until the season's conclusion in May – including a mammoth 106-12 win over Bedford Blues.

What will happen to the players?

If, like Richmond in 1999, Wasps were allowed to continue playing in this Premiership season, then the expectation would be that all of their players would still be able to represent the side, with a view to moving on at the end of this campaign.

As Telegraph Sport revealed last month, there has been speculation around the league suggesting that salary-cap exemptions could allow Premiership clubs to pick up players.

However, given those proposals would require unanimous backing across the competition, it is highly unlikely that they would be ratified.