A company which holds Worcester Warriors Rugby Club player contracts has been wound up, a development that is expected to initiate an exodus of players from the English Premiership club.
British tax authorities are pursuing the Warriors for unpaid tax in the region of £6million (€6.85m).
While Worcester are in administration, the company that holds player and some staff contracts – WRFC Players Ltd, a subsidiary of WRFC Trading Ltd – had been operational and was the subject of HMRC's action.
Judge Nicholas Briggs made an order winding up WRFC Players Ltd at an Insolvency & Companies Court hearing on Wednesday.
Club captain Ted Hill, Ollie Lawrence, Fergus Lee-Warner and Valeriy Morozov have already joined Bath on loan and others will follow them out of the door having become unemployed, along with members of staff.
Because they had not been paid for September, all players were able to leave on 14 October, meaning that liquidation has simply brought their departure forward by nine days.
Hill wrote on Twitter: "What an unbelievably sad day for everyone in Worcester.
"A club who meant so much to everyone has gone the direction none of us wanted it to. A place where I played my rugby from 14 years of age and met so many people who mean so much to me and my family."
Administrators Begbies Traynor are seeking a buyer for WRFC Trading Ltd and are talking to two consortiums, but any successful takeover will bring with it the urgent task of rebuilding the squad.
Worcester’s matches against Gloucester and Harlequins were cancelled on Monday and while they remain suspended from all competitions, they could be restored to the Gallagher Premiership if a buyer is found by the middle of this month.
No definite decision on relegation has been made by the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby, although the chances of continuing in the top flight appear remote considering the lack of time to agree terms with new investors.
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