CO-OWNER Jason Whittingham has reiterated any attempt to subject Morecambe FC to an MK Dons-style move to Worcester “is never going to happen” on his watch.

A takeover of Worcester Raiders FC by Warriors owners Whittingham and business partner Colin Goldring, which is still going through due process with the Football Association (FA), fuelled fears over what it could mean for League Two Morecambe, also owned by the duo.

Worcester Warriors press conference - September 28

And as unlikely as FA ratification for any plan to bring together the two clubs would be, Whittingham was quick to scotch any suggestion that it would be put forward in the first place.

“Categorically no, absolutely not. It is never going to happen, certainly not while I own them all,” he said.

“If someone (else) ended up owning all of these, which is doubtful, that would be up to them but there are no intentions to do that whatsoever.

“People need to understand Worcester Raiders has been brought into Sixways Stadium as part of our plan to make the site multi-sport, that was part of the reason for them putting down a synthetic playing surface originally.

“All we have done is brought in another sport to sweat the asset, we now have another 20-odd games that can be played every season, another 20-odd opportunities to generate more income to work towards the sustainability of the rugby club and the site.

“It is not going to become Morecambe FC in Worcester.”

Whittingham and Goldring have always clearly articulated a desire to bring a variety of sports to Sixways to turn around the financial side of a Premiership Rugby outfit that has historically lost millions of pounds per year.

The first step in that process was taken at the back end of July when Whittingham and Goldring, who had previously held takeover talks with Worcester City, announced a deal to become joint-majority owners of Raiders.

FA rules state “no person, company or business institution… may at any time be interested in more than one club” without “prior written consent”, something Whittingham admits has had to go on the backburner for now while Warriors deal with the immediate financial impact of Covid-19.

In cases where individuals or organisations have an interest in more than one club, rules also state that any second club – in this instance Raiders – cannot compete in the FA Cup, a competition they may have been eligible for next season having participated in the FA Vase for the first time earlier this month.

The FA has confirmed “a request for the transfer of football memberships is ongoing and all parties are working towards meeting the requirements” in relation to Raiders, who host Wolverhampton Sporting Community in the club's first competitive match at Sixways tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45).

Whittingham added: “At the moment Raiders still operates as a member-owned club as it did.

“Quite a lot of paperwork is going back and forth and it is not just about the change of ownership, it is incorporating a previously-unincorporated entity and that process is ongoing. I am liaising with the league, the Worcestershire FA and the FA.

“We don’t foresee any problems but to be honest it is about priorities. There are a few more pieces of paperwork to fill out but the priority at the moment is supporting the rugby industry.

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“The takeover of Worcester Raiders will go ahead at some point but it is not a high priority at the moment.

“As it stands there is no conflict otherwise the FA would have stopped the process already. They are two separate clubs.

“We accept Raiders may not be able to play in the FA Cup for the time being but if anything, I see the benefits of being able to link up a non-league club and give it a pathway to an EFL club.

“We are going to join up the dots between Raiders and Morecambe, hopefully to the benefit of both clubs.”

Whittingham also said: “Raiders comes at no cost to what goes on at Worcester Warriors and at the moment it provides positive cashflow.

“To allay concerns our rugby community may have, first and foremost this is a rugby club and the priority will always be rugby. By that I mean men, women, academy, all things rugby and then there is the football.

“Football is here as a secondary sport to generate some income and it will be a net positive (financially) to what goes on in rugby.

“If we can get some fans in to watch football – and if we can continue to do that why can’t we do it for rugby – it has a positive impact on the cash coming into the stadium and that is the point.

“There will be other sports to follow.”