Steve Diamond: Worcester Warriors plight ‘like death of a dog’, says boss

Steve Diamond first joined Worcester Warriors in November 2021, before taking over first team responsibilities two months later, then becoming director of rugby in the summer
Steve Diamond first joined Worcester in November 2021, before becoming director of rugby this summer

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond has described the imminent threat of his ailing club going into administration as “like the death of a dog”.

Warriors have been cleared to host Saturday’s Premiership game with Newcastle Falcons.

But the club must provide the Rugby Football Union with proof of funds to continue on Monday or face suspension.

“I just don’t know how it’s got to his position,” Diamond told BBC Sport.

“It’s sad and it’s diabolical that it’s been allowed to walk itself to the graveyard.”

After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the club’s future since HMRC issued a winding-up petition over an unpaid £6m tax bill, a further £14m owed in Covid sports survival loan payments, underpaid and late payments to players and staff, and some non-payments to suppliers and part-time staff, under-fire co-owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring are still to announce positive action.

But, following Worcester MP Robin Walker’s address to parliament on Thursday, legal advisors from accountancy firm Begbies Traynor have been appointed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – and have begun scrutinising Warriors’ accounts.

Although they have not been appointed as administrators, they have expertise in this area, having been brought in to work with several football clubs – and there is speculation that they will be appointed at Sixways as soon as Monday.

“Everything is out of my control,” added Diamond. “But something will have to happen.

“It’s just the waiting. It’s a bit like the death of a dog. You don’t want the poor thing to go to the vets, it’s on its last legs but you still have to take it.

“I had to take my Alsatian three years ago. It’s a bit like that. When’s it going to happen?

“I make comments like that, but it’s the only way I have of dealing with it. If you didn’t laugh you’d cry.

“I never thought it would get to this position, but it has. There is an unbelievably good feeling in the place. We’ve not got anarchy in the ranks. But we’ll see where that goes after Monday.”

Worcester Warriors boss Steve Diamond faced the local and national media at a Friday lunchtime press conference at Sixways
Worcester Warriors boss Steve Diamond faced the local and national media at a Friday lunchtime press conference at Sixways

‘Administration may be saviour of this club’

Diamond maintains that going through the administration process is now the only way forward. He warns of changes ahead, and also that he will want to remain part of those changes.

“I’ve convinced people to join and I’ve convinced people to stay,” he said. “You have a duty.

“If the people behind the scenes had the same mindset I’ve got, then it wouldn’t be in this position it’s in.

“If we get through it, it will be good. Administration may be the saviour of this club but there will still have to be a restructure. It can’t stay as it was, as it’s failed.

“I’ve explained that to the players. A lot of people don’t understand the process. I don’t fluff it. They know the situation.

“Even now, if the right people come with the right vision it will be a success. It’s been run incredibly badly and it needs rebooting. I said that when I came here. At least I’ve had six months to work out how badly it’s been run.

“With a fair wind and some serious financial in reserve – and I don’t mean bringing in celebrity names onto the playing staff – it needs a reboot from the academy to the top, we need to build a relationship with the local rugby club next door and with the local community, who have shown their support in bucket loads.

“The messages of support. That’s where I get my enthusiasm from.

“It doesn’t mean it’s fatal. There are other clubs in similar positions, which is public knowledge.

“Every rugby club has had to take emergency steps through the Covid period but you’ve got to stay onside of these people. You’ve got to be good communicators and, as we’ve seen over the past month or so, communication has been very poor.”

Diamond has eyes only on Newcastle

In the short term, after starting the season with defeats at London Irish and at home to Exeter, then in the Premiership Rugby Cup at Gloucester on Wednesday, Diamond is focussed only on this Saturday’s home game with last season’s fellow strugglers Newcastle.

“The mindset is that it’s our last game at Sixways ever,” he said. “I’m really proud of the lads going out tomorrow. There’s no team talk needed.

“The result is unimportant. It’s irrelevant to me, but not the performance. We’re still professional sportsmen.

“But, just getting 23 lads out there to give it their best shot is all I’m interested in at the minute. And we’ll be going out in Worcester afterwards for a pint.

“I’m then guessing that, if we’re suspended, it might then be a two or three week process, so we could be playing after the break.

“To be fair to the league and the union, we can’t have a team not playing for six weeks, then just putting it back in. That would give the league no credibility.”

Warriors have Scotland and British and Irish Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe back from the quadriceps injury that has kept him out of the start of the season.

He is one of three changes, with Alex Hearle switching from the left wing to the right, Billy Searle returning at fly-half in place of Owen Williams and Jay Tyack making his first start of the season at tighthead prop, with Murray McCallum switching to loosehead.

But club captain Ted Hill is still out with his hamstring injury.

“We don’t want to risk him,” said Diamond. “He’ll be right for next week.”

So there’s the good news – Warriors are still planning that there will be a next week.

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