Wasps were expelled from the Premiership after going into administration last year
Wasps will play in the Championship next season after the RFU approved their request to enter the second tier of English rugby.
The club were suspended and then relegated from the Premiership after going into administration and immediately ceased trading in November. They were bought by a consortium led by Wasps Legends who had their offer accepted by the administrators at the end of October.
The RFU had given both Worcester Warriors, who only recently had a takeover bid from the Atlas consortium approved by their administrators, and Wasps until 14 February as a ‘final deadline’ to enter into the Championship for the 2023-24 season.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “Our goal has consistently been to see Wasps and Worcester in the Championship and preserve the clubs for their fans and the wider communities they serve.
“While we had hoped to see both clubs in the Championship next season, we are pleased that following months of work from all parties involved, Wasps will have a place. We know this will be very welcome news to all those connected with the club. We would like to thank all those involved with Wasps for the open and collaborative dialogue over recent months.
“We appreciate the disappointment felt by Worcester Warriors staff, players and fans following the Atlas decision will be very significant.
“For a club to continue following insolvency, it is imperative that it has a sustainable and funded business plan, that there is transparency about ownership and funding structures, and that rugby creditors are paid.
“Payment of rugby creditors is an integral part of our insolvency regulations, and we cannot approve the takeover of a club without agreement that rugby creditor payments will be made. Given Atlas’s withdrawal from the process, we remain concerned that there are insufficient funds to pay rugby creditors which is a responsibility of the administrator of WRFC Trading Limited and the liquidator of WRFC Players Limited to determine.
“We will continue to work with Atlas over the coming weeks to understand their vision for rugby at Sixways. While the RFU is the regulator of rugby union, we have worked tirelessly to ensure we are making decisions that are best for the sport.”
A Wasps spokesperson said: “We remain in positive dialogue with the RFU and thank them for their continued support as we work to secure our future.
“Recent events have highlighted, more than ever, the importance of long-term sustainable investment.
“Our focus remains on stabilising the club financially and Wasps playing in the Championship next season.”
Wasps were given provisional approval to enter the Championship next season in December, leaving the Wasps Legends consortium to fulfil certain criteria, whereas Worcester were denied approval at the end of last year.
Wasps previously played their home games at the Coventry Building Society Arena but it remains to be seen where they will host fixtures when the season commences.
Former Worcester CEO and joint leader of the Atlas consortium Jim O’Toole refused to rule out the possibility of Wasps playing home games at Sixways Stadium.
O’Toole announced his intention to ditch the ‘Worcester Warriors’ name on 9 February, avoiding the responsibility to pay the millions of pounds owed to the club’s creditors, and rebrand the side as ‘Sixways Rugby’.
He said the club would merge with National 2 side Stourbridge, with approval needed from the fourth-tier club’s members, before building its way through the rugby pyramid with the aim of reaching the Championship by 2026.
Worcester Warriors fans have been invited to Sixways at 1pm on Saturday by O’Toole and co-owner James Sandford to discuss the potential rebrand.
However, after the news of a name change was met with a significant backlash, Sandford hinted there could be a U-turn on the decision, saying they: “might have got it wrong.” Yet there was no change in their position when meeting with the RFU and Worcester will not play in the Championship next season.
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