Premiership Rugby demands better scrutiny of clubs' accounts

Premiership Rugby demands better transparency and scrutiny towards clubs’ accounts in a bid to grasp the scale of the league’s financial crisis as Worcester and Wasps both sit on the brink of administration

  • Premiership Rugby are eager to gain greater access towards club’s accounts 
  • They wish to establish fully the severity of the financial crisis facing the league
  • Worcester and Wasps are on the brink of entering administration this month
  • The league’s chief executive insisted they need ‘better visibility’ of club finances 

Premiership Rugby are seeking greater access to clubs’ accounts, as they attempt to establish the scale of the financial crisis facing the league.

As of Friday, Worcester are likely to be suspended from all competitions and could go into administration – a fate which also awaits Wasps if they don’t settle an unpaid tax bill next month. 

In theory, both clubs could be relegated as punishment. Amid the turmoil, PRL are demanding powers of scrutiny which they have not had before.

Premiership Rugby want greater access to clubs’ accounts amid the league’s financial crisis

Worcester are likely to become suspended from all competitions and may face administration 

Asked if the plight of the two troubled Midlands clubs is the tip of the iceberg, the chief executive of the organisation which runs the league, Simon Massie-Taylor, said: ‘”Tip of the iceberg” is dramatic here, but we’ve got to have the ability around club finances to answer that question.

‘We need better visibility of club finances. It’s always been that Premiership Rugby hasn’t had full over-sight. We can administer the salary cap, but beyond that we haven’t got a clear picture, so I am flying blind. 

‘We need a basic level of financial information. It’s important, if we’re going to have sustainability.’

In the past, clubs have shied away from financial transparency, but Massie-Taylor detects a shift in attitudes. 

Chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor admitted: ‘We need better visibility of club finances’

‘Things have changed a lot,’ he said. ‘Since Covid, there’s a willingness from clubs to participate. Everyone understands the need to create a more sustainable eco-system and no-one wants to see a situation we’re in now with two clubs struggling. 

‘The clubs are willing, so that will help find potential future investment as we manage our way out of this.’

Massie-Taylor is determined to strike an up-beat tone about the Premiership’s outlook – highlighting the quality and competitiveness of the top division. 

But when asked how confident he is at that all 13 teams will survive this campaign, the honest response was: ‘It’s difficult to judge and I wouldn’t want to pre-empt it. We really hope these clubs can pull through.’

If the Premiership is reduced to a 12 or 11-club competition, they will hurriedly adapt. ‘That’s the doomsday scenario, but we could re-order that,’ said Massie-Taylor. 

Wasps could also enter administration should they fail to settle an unpaid tax bill next month

He revealed that plans to restructure the league are being accelerated, with ‘loads of different options’ being considered – some involving more clubs and some involving fewer. Any overhaul is unlikely to take effect until the 2024-25 season.

Meanwhile, Wasps captain Joe Launchbury described the club’s financial predicament as ‘unsettling’ – a decade after being a rookie member of a squad forced to operate against a backdrop of administration fears. However, the England lock has faith in the current hierarchy.

‘We fully trust them,’ he said. ‘The people at the top are very clear that they want to be part of the club and to find solutions to this. For us as players, hearing (from them) on Thursday was music to our ears. 

‘Until I’m told otherwise, I’m very optimistic. This club has a huge amount to offer. I believe the future can be really bright.’

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