RODNEY PARADE SELL OUT - SOME FACTS
Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell
insists a sale of Rodney Parade to the Welsh Rugby Union is the only way to keep
rugby at the historic ground. The governing body are currently, in theory,
part-owners of the Dragons along with Newport RFC and are closing in on a deal
to take over completely. The club state they have been hunting for fresh backing
since last April but they have attracted no new investors, prompting the WRU to
step in. A more likely theory is that Hazell and Tony Brown have now effectively
given up on bank-rolling or subsidising professional rugby. Unfortunately,
collateral damage may be inflicted on the independence of Newport RFC and its
main asset, Rodney Parade.
The Union, who it is claimed are currently owed around £1million by the Dragons, will own the region AND Rodney Parade under the proposed deal.
Hazell continued: "Tony and myself are not expecting to see our money back. For rugby to stay at Rodney Parade, we are willing to give up a lot of money owing to us."
In other statements Hazell claims he is seeking to preserve professional rugby for ten years in the centre of Newport, he has not confirmed what the future of Newport RFC is or how he see it's ownership.
Newport RFC Limited's latest accounts for 2015/16 are here. They were signed off on 27 February 2017
We have extracted two references regarding debts and the bank overdraft secured to build the Bisley Stand. Debts to the WRU are listed as only £78k in the account (the same as in the previous year).
The Articles of Association of Newport RFC Limited state
The Companies House website confirms the most recent resolution adopting the Articles of Association was recorded in August 2015.
The history of Newport Rugby Football Club 1875-1960 by Jack Davis records that the club opened negotiations with Viscount Tredegar with respect to the use of land adjacent to the Usk. From 1877 the Club entered into possession on a yearly tenancy (a lease was granted ten years later) of what is now the green space adjacent to Rodney Hall, the field surrounded by the cycle track. The opening of the ground adjoining Oliver's Nursery took place on Thursday, May 24,1877. The first rugby football match was on October 13 1877 against Glamorgan Rifles. In the 1920's the club erected the current city side / Hazell stand as part of ground improvements. The new east stand was opened in October 2011 and named the Bisley Stand for sponsorship purposes.
The options available to the club laid out by its directors and Chief Executive Officer are stark as effectively they are planning to pull the financial plug. Disappointingly there is no information or evidence that Newport City Council has been engaged in discussions with the Club and that it is a matter of discussion with the WRU. The WRU and the directors are presenting themselves as the only option available. But are there other options? Moving the professional team away from Rodney Parade and focussing on Newport RFC (and providing facilities for Newport County) given that professional rugby in Wales is unsuccessful and is failing? Looking at the assets available at Rodney Parade, to build a smaller clubhouse/hospitality facility at the north end of the ground and sell the rest off for development in order to retain ownership of RP? Or does the WRU option offer some stability unless and until new investors can be found or the professional team is relocated (after ten years)?
The unloved and pointless creation, the Dragons, has pulled Newport RFC down with it after ten years of disaster on and off the field. This will be a very difficult decision for shareholders, looking to guarantee the future of Rodney Parade and Newport RFC. We know that not all the scare stories are true but there will be consequences and uncertainties if life proceeds without professional rugby in Newport, not just for Rodney Parade but for the city centre as a whole. The WRU has traditionally been our enemy rather than our friend and it is hard to see that changing once they have unbridled freedom to do as they wish with our club and our ground.