The Worcester Warriors have been hit by a liquidation petition from HM Revenue & Customs over an unpaid tax bill, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
The tax authorities are asking for the Premiership club to be liquidated in a hearing which could take place in a few weeks unless the club settles the debt.
Worcester said: “Worcester Warriors along with many other businesses and most sports clubs have found the last two years extremely difficult due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.
“We retained our staff but lost income during the various confinements during which the overwhelming majority of matches were played behind closed doors. We resumed normal operations 12 months ago with a tax liability to HMRC. From the outset, we worked closely with HMRC on a plan to erase these liabilities and a payment delay agreement (TTP) was put in place.
“The club’s owners and board are fully committed to preserving top-level professional rugby in Worcester and have been working on solutions to secure the financial future of Worcester Warriors and to pay any taxes due to HMRC. A solution, which would secure the club’s long-term future, has been approved. Unfortunately, there have been inevitable delays beyond the club’s control in the final tasks required to complete the funding.
“Having kept HMRC fully informed of the situation, we are disappointed that they have taken the decision to launch a liquidation request. The directors of the club are continuing to engage with HMRC to try to find a quick and satisfactory solution.
“We have also been in communication with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Premiership Rugby and the RFU. [Rugby Football Union] on this subject.”
HMRC declined to comment.
News of the liquidation petition comes two months after Worcester delayed paying their players’ salaries in May.
The club said at the time: “A short delay in paying a small number of players was caused by a short-term cash flow problem which has now been resolved.
“Warriors, like most major sports clubs and businesses, have seen their revenue streams severely affected during the various lockdowns caused by Covid-19.
“We appreciate the war in Ukraine and the rising cost of living, these times remain uncertain and difficult for many.
“As a club and a business, we are very grateful for the support, understanding and loyalty of our bankers, suppliers, business partners, supporters and staff during this time.
“We will continue to diversify Sixways’ range of businesses to generate more non-rugby related revenue.
“We are also working on plans for a major Sixways site-wide development which we believe will secure Warriors’ long-term future as a sustainable Premiership rugby club.”
Telegraph Sport have also been told that Worcester took out a multimillion-pound loan last year under the government’s Covid-19 Sport winter survival scheme, in which £88million has been made available to Premiership teams.
A charge was imposed on clubs in an attempt to protect these long-term loans in case they failed to repay them.