Historic rugby club Wasps tasks FRP Advisory with administration

01 November 2022 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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FRP Advisory has been installed as administrator to a two-time European champion rugby club. Wasps Rugby Football Club has been suspended from England’s rugby union top-tier, after falling into administration in mid-October.

Wasps Rugby Football Club is a professional rugby union team. While it relocated to Coventry in 2014, it was historically a London-based club – in particular during its most successful era. The club – even known as London Wasps from 1999 to 2014 – was crowned European Champions twice, in 2004 and 2007; won six English Championships including three in a row from 2003–05; and won three Anglo-Welsh Cups.

Since shifting to the Midlands, however, the storied rugby institution has fallen on leaner times. In May 2022, Wasps failed to repay a £35 million bond finance they had raised in 2015 from investors to buy a stadium in Coventry. While the club stated it hoped to re-finance by mid-August, when that deadline came, Wasps did not refinance the bond. Despite owner Derek Richardson stating at the time, "we are not in administration and we are not going to be" after rumours of administration appeared on the internet, it seems the wheels may have been in motion.

Historic rugby club Wasps tasks FRP Advisory with administration

On 21 September 2022, Wasps Holdings announced its intention to appoint administrators due to ongoing financial difficulty. After a second notice of intention was filed in early October, the club was suspended from all tournaments it was involved in, due to an inability to field a team. Wasps Holdings was finally placed into administration a week later, with all playing and coaching staff made redundant.

Andrew Sheridan and Rajnesh Mittal of FRP Advisory were appointed as joint-administrators of Wasps Holdings. Wasps Holdings is the holding company for Wasps Men, Wasps Women, Wasps Netball, the associated coaching and support teams, and the respective academies and pathways – and Sheridan noted that it had been "pretty tough" news to break to the staff at the club.

He added, "Our immediate focus is on supporting those who have lost their jobs this morning. This will be an incredibly challenging time for every individual, and we will be assisting them in making claims to the redundancy payments service."

A statement from Wasps meanwhile apologised to fans, but suggested refunds for season tickets would not be available. The statement read that while “all future Wasps matches are currently cancelled and therefore match tickets, season tickets and hospitality packages cannot be honoured” the club was “unable to provide any refunds.” If fans paid by credit or debit card, however, the club added “you may be able to get your money back by claiming a refund from your card issuer.”

Elsewhere, Arena Coventry Limited and IEC Experience Limited – which operate the businesses at arena in Coventry – are not in administration at present. But while they continue to trade as normal for now, the bondholders owed £35 million by Wasps have now been asked for more money, as the threat of liquidation looms over the Coventry Building Society Arena stadium business.

A letter to bondholders read, "In the absence of receipt of additional funding in short order, it may not be possible to continue marketing the assets which form part of the security… In such event, the statutory purpose of administration may not be capable of being achieved and the directors of Arena Coventry Limited and/or Arena Coventry (2006) Limited may have no choice other than to apply to court for an order placing ACL and/or ACL2006 into compulsory liquidation."

The letter noted that any additional funding supplied would not receive priority when it comes to repayment over existing bondholder debts – which were originally due to be repaid in May. Another interest payment of around £1 million is also due next month. If the stadium companies do not secure funding, or a new buyer, for the stadium, they too could enter administration.