Worcester Warriors' players have contracts terminated
Worcester Warriors players and staff are to have their contracts terminated, following part of the club being wound up in the High Court.
HMRC had been pursuing Worcester, who are suspended from all competitions, for unpaid tax of around £6m.
Judge Nicholas Briggs instructed that WRFC Players Ltd, through which players and staff are paid, should be wound up.
A winding-up petition against WRFC Trading Limited, which remains in administration, has been suspended.
The four players who went out on loan to Bath on Monday and the rest of the squad are now free agents so can sign for any club.
The joint hearing for both companies, held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, was relayed online as a result of the train strike and the club had no representation in court.
'Warriors have ended up like the Titanic'
"This is the darkest day for English rugby," said Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond. "We thought we could turn the tanker around but it's ended up like the Titanic, sadly. The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen."
All debts at WRFC Players Ltd, including the sum owed to HMRC, believed to be over £6m, remain outstanding.
The club also owe a reported £15m, understood to be the largest share, as part of the combined £124m loaned out to Premiership clubs by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport during the height of the Covid pandemic as sports survival payments.
The ground and the club are controlled by WRFC Trading Ltd, which went into administration last Monday.
Much of the land around the ground now belongs to other companies owned by co-owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring.
Begbies Traynor, the administrators appointed to deal with the WRFC Trading Ltd wing of the club, will continue to deal with that part of the process.
But the contracts of all players, backroom staff, administrative staff, and the women's squad, who play under the University of Worcester Warriors banner, are all effectively terminated.
Some staff are still owed 35% of their August wages, while some did not get paid at all, and nobody was paid for September.
Saturday's Premiership game against Gloucester was cancelled, as is this weekend's match against Harlequins.
It is understood Warriors could now have their suspension from the Premiership and other competitions extended until the end of season - and suffer relegation to the Championship.
But, if a buyer is found by the middle of this month, they could still save their place in the league.
Begbies Traynor are still seeking a buyer for WRFC Trading Ltd - and are talking to two consortiums, one of which is a consortium led by former Warriors chief executive Jim O'Toole.