Insolvency – Rugby clubs urged to call experts

Insolvency specialists this week urged rugby clubs struggling with professionalism to call in financial experts, such as accountants, to save them from receivership before it is too late.

Coventry RFC’s receiver John Kelly, a partner at Buchler Phillips who also acted as receiver for Moseley rugby club earlier this year, blamed lack of managerial expertise for a spate of recent receiverships.

‘The management of clubs is only on a part-time basis and they can’t dedicate sufficient time. I urge clubs to seek advice from accountants earlier.’

Kelly found a buyer for Coventry within a week, but his work was aggravated by Coventry not being a limited company. ‘It’s owned by its members and so the conditions of insolvency don’t apply.’

Kelly said the club’s remaining assets, except the ground, had been sold to a business consortium which will have a two-year lease on the ground.

He added that at least two other second-division clubs were in danger of going into receivership.

Smith & Williamson, the appointed receiver of second-division Bristol RFC which went into receivership last month, revealed that a consortium had been found to buy the club. Michael Stevenson, a partner at Smith & Williamson, confirmed that a consortium – including a former director of the Bristol club – was due to sign a contract later in the week.

No one from the Rugby Football Club Federation or the English Rugby Partnership, the financial regulator of rugby clubs, was available for comment on the clubs’ financial troubles.

Related reading