Newport Gwent Dragons: 'More work' needed to seal takeover deal, says chief
Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies says "more work" is needed to persuade Newport RFC fans to back Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) plans to take over the region and Rodney Parade.
Davies met supporters of Newport RFC, who said "answers to important questions were not forthcoming".
The WRU, Newport RFC and Dragons boards have ratified the deal, but it requires 75% backing in a vote of Newport rugby club shareholders to proceed.
Davies said he'd "had easier evenings".
The former Swansea and Wales number eight added that he had faced a "passionate crowd" and that "all those that were vocal" at the meeting were against the plans.
Davies said: "They were not necessarily all shareholders, but those that were making their views known weren't in favour of what was being tabled."
An independent group of supporters, Friends of Newport Rugby, said three "key" questions were not answered by Davies:
- "What was the business plan for Newport RFC to survive without a ground or clubhouse?"
- "How would they [the WRU] raise the funds necessary to compete in the Welsh Premiership?"
- "To what extent will the directors write off their secured loans?"
The deal on offer would see the WRU taking control of the region and the Rodney Parade Ground by 1 July.
The stadium, which has staged rugby since 1877, is used by Newport RFC, Dragons and Newport County football club.
Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell has already said he believes the takeover must happen, saying: "The alternative is financial disaster and receivership" signalling the end of professional rugby at Rodney Parade.
Decisive meeting expected in May
An extraordinary general meeting of Newport rugby club shareholders will have to be held to vote on the issue, with 75% of those at the meeting or voting by proxy needed to back the takeover.
Davies expects the meeting to take place in early May.
"I think we've got more work to do in making it clear to everyone what the consequences of that will be," added Davies.
"But also furnishing everyone with more information and more assurance as to how this can play out positively.
"As difficult as this whole situation is, I think it's incumbent upon me now to make sure that I fulfil that role and make it clear to everyone what point we're at, why we've got here and what happens if the proposal isn't supported and I must have revisited that three or four times last night."
Dragons: Strugglers on and off the pitch
The WRU already owns 50% of the region, which was formed in 2003, while Newport RFC have played at Rodney Parade since 1877.
Dragons have been struggling on the pitch and have long-standing financial problems.
When the WRU's plans were confirmed, chief executive Martyn Phillips said: "To make this work we have to purchase the ground because it needs a lot of work.
"You couldn't make that investment if you were leasing the ground.
"There are lease and debts and the only way to clean it up was to buy the debt."
WRU proposals for taking over Newport Gwent Dragons
- Change the region's name to Dragons - dropping Newport Gwent
- Be committed to Newport RFC playing at Rodney Parade
- Lay an artificial 4G pitch to cure water-logging problems
- "Call the shots" on dealings with Newport County AFC, who signed a 10-year lease to play at Rodney Parade in 2013