Rugby Union: Welsh clubs warned

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The Independent Online
Wales' financially stricken senior clubs have been warned that there can be no repeat of the big-spending philosophy which has plunged the game into financial crisis.

The Welsh Rugby Union yesterday began bailing out several leading clubs, including Swansea, Llanelli and Bridgend, with six-figure loans as part of a pounds 1.2m rescue package.

The WRU treasurer, Glanmor Griffiths, also delivered a stern warning intended to put a block on the lucrative transfer market and huge wage bills responsible for the current desperate position.

"We will ask each club to provide us with a business plan," Griffiths said. "Within that, we will expect that all future expenditure is matched by income. It follows that contracts for any player would have to be covered by the financial resources of each club."

Additionally, the WRU intends carrying out monthly audits of clubs' books, and could block future signings if it is not satisfied with the financial resources available.

Bridgend and their First Division rivals, Treorchy, yesterday became the latest clubs to cancel contracts and release players. Bridgend let six go, including the former Wales winger Gwilym Wilkins, while Treorchy decided they could no longer afford the scrum-half Kevin Ellis, having already parted company with his fellow rugby league recruit Rowland Phillips.

Such drastic moves follow recent actions by Swansea and Llanelli, who both released eight squad members. Llanelli players, including their sizeable international contingent, also agreed a 10 per-cent pay cut.

Swansea, Llanelli and Bridgend have received five-year loans totalling pounds 550,000 while Treorchy have a pounds 70,000 loan. Swansea also owe the WRU pounds 120,000 after it guaranteed Scott Gibbs' move from St Helens. Additional payments totalling pounds 120,000 have been made to Newbridge, Aberavon and Abertillery.

"The clubs have been prepared to take some very hard decisions to put their financial houses in order," Griffiths said. "We all have to recognise that a professional game can only succeed in Wales if it is run professionally in accordance with good business principles."