Worcester Warriors: Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter says ‘it’s hard to see them playing any more part this season’

Just 10 days ago, Rob Baxter’s Exeter sealed a 31-16 bonus-point win against Worcester at Sixways in their first away outing of the season

Exeter boss Rob Baxter says he does not see any quick fix to Worcester’s ongoing problems as they tackle going into administration – and that the Warriors will play no further part this season.

Although their Midlands rivals Wasps are still hoping to find new investment to avoid the threat of administration, the process has now begun at Sixways.

“There’s no quick solutions there,” Baxter told BBC Radio Devon.

“It’s hard to see them playing any more part in this Premiership season.”

He added: “I’m not thinking that this is something which can be sorted out in two or three weeks’ time.

“It’s probably going to shock some people the time it takes to work through.”

Julie Palmer, the administrator appointed by Begbies Traynor on Tuesday, said that she was “realistically talking about certainly weeks rather than months” and that she is “keen to engage with interested parties as quickly as possible”.

But Baxter warned: “If people think it’s as simple as someone coming in with a certain amount of money and buying what is available and just rolling on, it’s so much more complex than that.

“I probably hear bits that other people don’t hear from within the rugby environment.

“The situation appears so complicated I don’t think anyone is predicting a fast outcome there.”

What will be Warriors’ immediate fate?

Although automatic relegation should be the fate for any club entering administration once a season has started, there is a loophole which might keep Worcester safe this season, if a quick solution can be found.

The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) regulations include “a request for relief from sanction”, if the club can show that their financial issues were caused by something “beyond their control and without the fault or negligence of the club and which by the exercise of reasonable diligence the club was unable to prevent”.

But Baxter suggested that the time factor will mean that it doesn’t get sorted this season.

“At some stage, when the decision gets made as to whether they will be returning or not, there will be an evening out process,” he added. “But, realistically, how long can it go on for?

“The only thing that might get sorted out in two or three weeks is a decision that they’re not taking part in the rest of this season.”

This season, as the Premiership still restructures itself in the wake of Saracens’ off-field indiscretions, is the second in a row containing 13 clubs – and it had already been decreed that there would be no relegation.

The added frustration for fans, staff and players alike – and especially one of the would-be potential buyers, who made their first approach in August – is that, if the administration had happened before the start of the season on September 9, then the punishment would have been only a 35-point penalty.

George Skivington has been coach at Gloucester since June 2020
George Skivington has been coach at Gloucester since June 2020

Another Premiership boss, Gloucester’s George Skivington, expects Warriors to be removed from English rugby’s top flight.

When asked if an exception should be made, and that the Warriors might not have to be forced into relegation, he told BBC Sport: “I honestly think the rules are in place for a reason.

“Is it fair or unfair? It’s not fair on the players, coaches and support staff. Someone should be held accountable at the end of the day.”

‘The next brutal reality’

He also pointed out how difficult it might be for Warriors players – especially their higher earners – to find other clubs.

“Names have been bandied around as they always are throughout the year,” Skivington said. “Names have been out on the market and different agents.

“It’s very hard for the players because they want to be loyal to their club but there is the reality of paying your mortgage and the guys at Worcester know they have to pay their mortgage.

“The reality is there isn’t much money out there. Most people have spent their salary cap so it’s hard for the guys who’ve got good contracts.

“There aren’t going to be teams with loads of money to spend on you. That’s the next brutal reality.”

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