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Worcester owners borrowed £500,000 from ailing club icon Cecil Duckworth in 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Worcester owners borrowed £500,000 from ailing club icon Cecil Duckworth in 2018 and the cash-strapped Premiership club has NEVER paid it back… even after his death from cancer two years later

  • Owners borrowed £500,000 from Cecil Duckworth during ‘dying days’
  • Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have failed to repay the debt to his family
  • This revelation will horrify those in the rugby community around Worcester
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Worcester Owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham borrowed £500,000 from Cecil Duckworth during the club icon’s ‘dying days’ and have failed to repay the debt.

As the embattled pair face mounting pressure from the RFU over their mishandling of the stricken Warriors, Mail Online Sport can reveal they accepted financial backing from Duckworth shortly after taking control at Sixways in 2018.

Several sources have confirmed that the large amount received has not been repaid.

This revelation will horrify those in the club and the rugby community around Worcester who share such admiration for Duckworth; an adored local businessman and philanthropist.

He began his association with the Warriors in 1997 and oversaw their rise from the lower leagues, all the way to the Premier League, as executive chairman and a generous investor.

He combined his rugby activities with charity work and went on to become president of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

Worcester Warriors owners borrowed £500,000 from ailing club icon Cecil Duckworth
Worcester Warriors owners borrowed £500,000 from ailing club icon Cecil Duckworth

Worcester Warriors owners borrowed £500,000 from ailing club icon Cecil Duckworth

Duckworth died in November 2020, aged 83, after suffering from cancer, which a subsequent inquest concluded was caused by inhaling asbestos many years earlier.

He had long since ended any direct financial involvement with Worcester, but – while ill in his eighties – chose to lend money to Goldring and Whittingham. A source said: ‘He trusted them and they betrayed him.’

The Duckworth family have been alarmed by the recent turmoil at the club that Cecil has worked so hard to develop over so many years.

Former owner Duckworth died in November 2020, aged 83, after suffering from cancer
Former owner Duckworth died in November 2020, aged 83, after suffering from cancer

Former owner Duckworth died in November 2020, aged 83, after suffering from cancer

In a statement released in August, after it emerged the Warriors were facing a winding-up order from HMRC, they wrote: ‘The Duckworth family are very saddened by the latest news at Worcester Warriors.

“Cecil and others spent many years building up the rugby club and know he would be devastated by the events unfolding. Our thoughts are with the staff and players.’

Meanwhile, the RFU has stepped up pressure on Goldring and Whittingham at a time when their proposed sale of Worcester has stalled again.

Mail Online Sport understands the buyer, who has recently been in talks with the owners, has confirmed a buy-out will not take place unless the Warriors go into administration to allow some of the nearly £30m debt to be paid off. forensic investigation of financial activities must take place.

The club's hierarchy have been warned by the union at Twickenham that they must give assurances by noon tomorrow about their ability to stage Saturday's Premier League game
The club's hierarchy have been warned by the union at Twickenham that they must give assurances by noon tomorrow about their ability to stage Saturday's Premier League game

The club’s hierarchy have been warned by the union at Twickenham that they must give assurances by noon tomorrow about their ability to stage Saturday’s Premier League game

That means the unknown second buyer is waiting in the wings, as is the consortium led by former chief executive Jim O’Toole, which has insisted on administration as a condition of taking over but has funds in place.

Last Sunday, Whittingham claimed a deal was likely to be struck within 48 hours, but that deadline passed at 2pm yesterday.

Now the club’s hierarchy have been warned by the union at Twickenham that by noon tomorrow they must provide assurances about their ability to stage Saturday’s Premier League game against Newcastle at Sixways or Worcester will be suspended from all competitions.

In addition, they must submit – no later than 5pm on Monday – proof of appropriate insurance and payment of all outstanding August wages to staff and players.

The club's owners also transferred ownership of the Sixways Stadium to a new company
The club's owners also transferred ownership of the Sixways Stadium to a new company

The club’s owners also transferred ownership of the Sixways Stadium to a new company

The owners must also provide clear evidence of ‘a robust and fully funded plan for the future viability of the club’, as well as identify a proposed buyer and the structure of the deal.

Furthermore, the RFU wants to see details of proposed cash injections and how the club will pay September wages before the end of the month.

A letter sent to the owners by the union said: “While we appreciate that this will be unwelcome news, it is clear that the current situation cannot continue.”

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