WRU threat to top clubs

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

Leading Welsh rugby clubs are heading for a new showdown with the Welsh after agreeing a reported pounds 22m deal with BSkyB for the televising of matches.

First Division Rugby Limited, an organisation of the top 12 clubs in Wales, claimed yesterday that each of their members will receive pounds 1.85m during the course of the five-year contract.

That drew a rapid response from the WRU chairman, Vernon Pugh, who said that the clubs' decision reneged on a recent agreement between the two bodies and could lead to the clubs losing their Union membership. But Pugh also said that he believed the reputed package to be a "misunderstanding" and that the pact between the Union and their clubs formed a firm commitment to work together.

"We have received no official notification from First Division Rugby Limited and I do not believe they would even contemplate negotiating their own television agreement," said Pugh.

However, FDRL believe the matter is settled - at least in principle. "We were invited by the WRU to consider the options available to us. We have done so carefully. No other option that has been promoted to us is as attractive," a spokesman said.