South West Wales

Fans call for action over Neath RFC ownership

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Media captionFormer Neath and Wales player Gareth Llewellyn said it is important clubs like Neath survive

Fans of one of Wales's oldest rugby clubs will meet to approve a letter to the Welsh Rugby Union asking them to intervene in the ownership of the club.

Neath RFC was once a giant in Welsh rugby but changes in the structure of the game in Wales as well as changes to the club itself have seen it struggle on and off the pitch in recent years.

The fans say they have lost faith in the club's co-owner, Geraint Hawkes.

Mr Hawkes said he has the interests of the club at heart.

For the past three seasons, the club has been languishing near the bottom of the Premiership but supporters say it is matters off the pitch which concern them most.

The club has had two chief executives in just over 12 months. It has had four county court judgements against it in the past three years and, in 2013, bailiffs turned up at the club shop after a player was successful in the small claims court because of unpaid wages.

In a meeting in the town on Thursday evening, supporters will discuss writing a letter to the board of the WRU calling on it to take a more proactive role to resolve the issue of the ownership of Neath.


They say they fear it will not be long before the club will cease to exist.

"Neath Rugby Club is really struggling at the minute," said supporter Gerald Morgan.

"It's struggling in terms of rugby on the field, it's struggling in terms of supporters coming to the ground and it's struggling in terms of sponsors.

"As far as the potential we have, it's synonymous with Welsh rugby. And the club itself is really not performing well as a club. Its perception outside of the rugby community is not good."

Neath MP Peter Hain has met with the WRU asking it to intervene. At the time it said that while Neath was run as a company in its own right, the priority was to keep the club going successfully.

On Thursday, the WRU said group chief executive Roger Lewis has spoken to Mr Hain, and will be arranging a further meeting with the MP and supporters' representatives.

Mr Hawkes has previously said he has severed his ties with the club, but it is understood an agreement to transfer the ownership to local businessman Mike Cuddy has not been signed.

A statement issued by his solicitor, Philip Graham, said: "Mr Hawkes continues to have the best interests of Neath RFC at heart and will work with all parties interested in the development and best interests of Neath RFC.

"Not being aware of the content of the letter, Mr Hawkes looks forward to receipt in order to consider its content."

Image caption Neath RFC play their home matches at the Gnoll

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