Dear Newport Gwent Dragons supporters,
As you are no doubt aware on Tuesday the Board of Directors announced radical plans to establish the Dragons as a fully independent Region, allowing them to attract fresh investment. I wanted to write to all supporters directly to outline what exactly this means for the Dragons, and to offer supporters re-assurance around the future.
At present Newport RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union are joint owners of Newport Gwent Dragons. Under the proposal that has been agreed both parties will transfer shares to new investors and potentially new owners. This will only happen once all parties are satisfied with their investment plans and credentials. Separating Newport Gwent Dragons from the current group structure will then allow them to become a fully independent Region.
I must stress that the decision that has been taken is a result of over 12 months consultation with the Board of Directors. Our strategic plan was signed off in June 2015 and in October 2015 we decided our preferred option as being for the Dragons to become fully independent. We have lots of legal and financial considerations to take however we do hope that by the end of the year these will be complete and new investors will be on board. Until we have positive announcements to make it will be business as usual in terms of both the team and the venue.
I hope this landmark decision will lead to improved results and a much brighter future for the Dragons. This change has been brought apart by a desire to be more successful on the field of play. We hope the fresh investment will act as a catalyst, which helps us achieve our aspirations for the Dragons. Under the plans, our balance sheet will be significantly improved via the capitalisation of loans and writing off of debts, meaning that any new investment can be injected straight into the business and in particular the rugby team. I am excited at the prospect of finding people to take a place at Welsh rugby’s top table, and to embark on what could be a great adventure. We are of course actively encouraging potential new investors to get in touch.
The amount of investment that we can secure will shape what follows next. As well as investment into the team the increase in available funds will enable greater marketing and PR activity across the Region, an increased community presence, improvements to supporter experience and enhancements to matchday event presentation. The venue and the business at large, including conferencing and events at Rodney Parade, will also benefit.
A lease agreement will be signed with Newport RFC which will allow the Dragons to carry on playing at Rodney Parade, a historic ground we are proud to call home. Under this new lease arrangement Newport Gwent Dragons will probably run Rodney Parade and continue establishing the venue for conferences, celebrations and events. This arrangement will also ensure our combined interests in maintenance and ground improvements can be pursued.
I am grateful to both the Welsh Rugby Union and Newport RFC for their understanding and support of our aspirations. The guaranteed and regular rental payments will give Newport RFC visibility and security of income allowing a focus on building a successful Premiership side. A close working relationship between all parties will continue.
Finally I would like to invite all Newport Gwent Dragons supporters to an event on Monday 11th April at 6:30pm in the Business Suite, Rodney Parade. Director of Rugby Lyn Jones and I will make a short presentation before taking questions from the floor.