‘Stung’ Wasps ambitious plan to ‘fly’ again!



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Wasps are planning a new stadium Image: Wasps Stadium, zoonbar (flickr), CC BY 2.0

The professional rugby union team Wasps Rugby Football Club (UK) are seeking funding for a new 24,000-capacity stadium development and are targeting a projected return to the top flight for the 2025-2026 seasons as part of an ambitious rebuilding plan after the club’s financial collapse last Autumn, which led to their ejection from the Premiership.

‘The Guardian’ stated that the club’s vision, as outlined in documents, involves a permanent home in the M40 corridor to be known as the Wasps Nest Stadium. The proposed complex, which is intended to be fully operational by 2027-2028, would include a hotel, conference facilities and community leisure opportunities, with work potentially commencing in 2025 subject to planning and other permissions.

The Wasps Rugby Football Club is a professional rugby union team. They last played in Premiership Rugby, the top division of English rugby until being suspended on October 12th, 2022. On October 17th, 2022 the club entered administration, resulting in relegation to the RFU Championship, and all staff being made redundant. They exited administration on December 16th, 2022. From 2014 to 2022, the Coventry Building Society Arena served as their residence.

The Coventry Building Society Arena (often shortened to the CBS Arena or just simply Coventry Arena, and formerly known as the Ricoh Arena) is a complex in Coventry, England (UK). It includes a 32,609-seater stadium which is currently home to the football team, Championship club Coventry City F.C.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that Wasps fell into administration in October last year, with 167 players and staff being made redundant, but have been cleared to resume playing in the Championship from next season. As things stand, it is understood the club’s existing training ground in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire (UK) could satisfy the criteria to stage competitive league matches.

In January, the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee of MPs concluded the demise of Wasps and Worcester was “a stain on the reputation” of the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby, who were accused of “inert leadership”, and warned the financial situation of Premiership teams was “clearly unsustainable”.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the national governing body for rugby union in England (UK). It was founded in 1871, and was the sport’s international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby (WR) in 1886. It promotes and runs the sport, organizes international matches for the England national team and educates and trains players and officials.

Dublin (Ireland)-based the World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. The World Rugby organizes the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport’s most recognized and most profitable competition.

The Premiership Rugby, officially known as the Gallagher Premiership Rugby, or the Gallagher Premiership for sponsorship reasons, is an English professional rugby union competition consisting of 11 clubs, and is the top division of the English rugby union system.

A number of former Wasps players remain committed to resurrecting the club and re-establishing it as a viable Premiership concern. Under the strapline ‘Stung … but Resilient’ the club’s stated vision is “to be an inspirational sports business” with promotion back to the Premiership in 2025 seen as a key element of the business plan.

Financially, the aim is for rugby revenues to account for less than 50 percent of the club’s total revenues by 2028, with the objective of “brand leveraged revenues” from other stadium activities bringing in an estimated £7m a year from 2027 onwards.

That mission statement has been made harder by the formal loss of the club’s ‘P share’ that, after the club’s descent into administration, is in the process of being bought back by Premiership Rugby. The ‘P share’ guarantees the holder a share of centrally generated income and would cost at least £15m to repurchase.

Wasps will also have to rebuild their local supporter base and to source fresh investment at a time when English rugby’s financial outlook has rarely looked less certain. A strong, new-look board containing several prominent and successful business leaders will be announced soon with the task of ensuring that spending is constrained by revenues.

A Wasps spokesperson said, “The privileged and leaked document seeks to meet the objectives of future sustainable ownership. By definition that requires ownership of a ground to meet the requirements of ‘brand leverage revenues’.”

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