Newport RFC: Shareholders vote in favour WRU takeover of Newport Gwent Dragons

Rodney Parade
Rodney Parade has hosted six Wales international matches

Newport RFC shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) takeover of Newport Gwent Dragons.

81.09% voted in favour of the takeover, which also includes the Rodney Parade ground.

The WRU and Dragons both approved the deal before the vote took place on Tuesday, which needed to be passed by at least 75% of shareholders.

The Union already owns 50% of the region, which was formed in 2003.

A new company free of debt will now be formed, owned by the WRU, and all employees of the Dragons will now be taken on by the WRU.

The union has targeted a completion date of 1 July for the deal to be finalised.

'The hard work starts now'

Shareholders were informed of "additional provisions" before the vote, which include opening a club museum and keeping profits from bar sales on match days.

"We will be doing everything possible to ensure the long-term success of the Dragons, but the hard work starts now," said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

"All parties recognise that, from a Dragons perspective, significant improvement is required on and off the pitch and that now is the time for a new approach.

"Our investment is equally designed to safeguard Newport RFC and its rich history at Rodney Parade."

League Two football club Newport County agreed a 10-year lease to use Rodney Parade in 2013 and were reassured they have a future at the ground, despite the WRU saying they view it as a "rugby venue".

"We have committed to safeguard the future of the game in the region and we will be doing everything in our control to not only provide continued stability for players, supporters, employees and everyone with an interest in the game in the region, but we will also be looking for rugby to thrive at Rodney Parade," WRU chairman Gareth Davies added.

"We want Gwent to have a Dragons team to be proud of, a team which becomes synonymous with success both on and off the pitch for the good of the whole game in Wales and we will be utilising all of the resources and the expertise we have available to make sure that happens."

Complex takeover

Rodney Parade
Rodney Parade has hosted rugby union since 1877

Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies, a former Wales back-row forward, had previously warned a 'no' vote could lead to liquidation for the club and region, and the end of 140 years of rugby at Rodney Parade.

"This was an incredibly complex takeover," said Davies.

"It was important to explain to shareholders and supporters the intricacies of the deal, and to outline the extent of the debt as a driving factor.

"There was also a need to give as much detail as possible around our vision for Rodney Parade under the WRU's ownership.

"We would like to acknowledge the contribution of shareholders and supporters in shaping the final detail, and we are grateful that enough of those involved have supported the 'Yes' vote."

Pitch perfect?

The nine-acre Rodney Parade site is included in the £3,75m deal and one of the first issues will be to install a new pitch that will be acceptable to the Dragons, Newport RFC and Newport County.

"We plan to press the button on that and have that in place before the start of next season," said Phillips.

"Clearly that needs to be acceptable to Newport County which it will be.

"They have a licence to play here and we want to have a strong partnership with them.

"We said consistently we would have liked to put an artificial surface down because we want this to be a vibrant rugby hub.

"We can't do that at the moment so it will be a form of Desso hybrid pitch.

"We have identified a manufacturer and it will take quite a chunk of money."

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