Sports editor Oscar Frost reports on the takeover that is giving Wasps a glimmer of hope following their entry into administration
With the news that Wasps had been suspended from the Premiership for the year, it seemed that the future was gloomy. The club followed Worcestershire Warriors in entering administration, leaving only eleven clubs to finish the season.
It has been estimated that Wasps has around £112m of debt, by far the most of any side in the Premiership.
To add salt to the wounds, the women’s side and the netball club have also been removed from their respective competitions. Wasps netball won the Super League in 2017 and 2018, meaning their absence will be sorely missed this season.
However, a consortium of ex-owners, Wasps legends and others have agreed to purchase the club. The deal is still subject to contract, with the RFU yet to give final approval, but a Wasps resurgence is very possible next season.
Wasps last released a statement on the 17th October, which stated that Wasps Holdings Limited had been placed into Administration. It appears that the club does not want to count its chickens before they have hatched, as there has not been word of this takeover publicly.
This Wasps resurgence may not be all smooth sailing, however, with numerous players already leaving to join other clubs. Star fly-half Charlie Atkinson joined Leicester Tigers, and he is far from the only one.
Vincent Koch and Paolo Odogwu both recently signed for Stade Français, with Koch joining the club having never played for Wasps due to international duty and illness. This highlights the difficulties of such a tenuous situation.
A total of 167 players and staff were made redundant as a result of the administration. These are all members of staff that will have to be replaced, or reinstated, once the club is allowed back by the RFU. A large number of these will have joined new clubs, so the club will inevitably have to bring in a mix of old and new faces.
This number may not be as bad as it first seems, however, as it applies to the men’s and women’s rugby sides, as well as the Wasps netball team. Therefore, the burden is somewhat shared between the aspects of the club.
It will be interesting to see whether the news owners prioritise any of the individual branches if and when they take over Wasps. With the netball team having recent success, it is hard to see how they could justify axing the club. With a consortium involving ex-rugby players, however, I believe that it is not necessarily a guarantee that they will spread their focus wider than the men’s rugby side.
Perhaps being critical of the new ownership is assuming the worst. The main outcome of the takeover is that a sports club on the brink of dissolution is looking like it will come back, which is the best outcome for fans and neutrals alike. All eyes will be on Wasps if and when they return to professional rugby next season to see if they can come back to their former best.
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