Worcester Warriors players and staff have had their contracts terminated after a winding-up order was issued in the High Court.

The club have been pursued by HMRC for an unpaid tax bill of around £6m, leading to a decision from Judge Nicholas Briggs to wind up WRFC Players Ltd, the company through which players are paid.

All of Worcester’s players are now free agents and can be signed by other Premiership clubs.

Wages for some staff remain unpaid for August and September, and WRFC Players Ltd’s debts are still outstanding.

Warriors could now be suspended from the Premiership until the end of the season, after which they may be relegated to the Championship.

The search for a buyer is ongoing and could bring to an end a saga that has threatened the existence of the club.

But the situation remains dire as Warriors find themselves without players and staff and mounting debts.

“This is the darkest day for English rugby," said the club's former Lead Rugby Consultant Steve Diamond. 

"We thought we could turn the tanker around but it’s ended up like the Titanic, sadly. The ship has sunk, the captains are nowhere to be seen. The RFU/PRL band played in the background. There are a privileged few who have jobs."

Worcester MP Robin Walker wrote on Twitter: “Gutted for @WorcsWarriors players today, outraged the directors didn’t even bother to turn up to court. Urging administrators to do all they can to get the club through this & restore professional rugby to Sixways & urging PRL & RFU don’t take the P share & give us a route back.”

A statement released on the club website said: "WRFC Trading Limited entered into administration on 27 September 2022. Julie Palmer, Julian Pitts and Andrew Hook of Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP were appointed as Joint Administrators. The Joint Administrators act as agent of WRFC Trading Limited and without personal liability.

"Furthermore, Julie Palmer, Julian Pitts and Andrew Hook of Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP were appointed as Receivers over Sixways Stadium, Warriors Way, Hindlip, Worcester WR3 8ZE.

"The Joint Administrators are currently speaking with interested parties to determine whether any party will buy the club. Further information on the sale process will be provided in due course."