Newport Gwent Dragons investment plans 'start of process'

By Nick WebbBBC Wales Sport
Stuart Davies
Stuart Davies has been working on the deal to seek new investment for over a year

Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies says the announcement of sale plans is "the start of the process," in attracting new investors.

"We're not doing this because we've had approaches, we're doing this because we have aspirations that rely on further investment," he said.

The WRU is prepared to give up its 50% stake in the region.

Davies would not rule out a new name for the team under new owners, a source of conjecture in the region.

Davies admitted that potential investors in the region, which has been the lowest-placed Welsh side in the Pro12 for eight out of 12 seasons, would not be attracted by the prospect of making money.

"This is an exciting and wonderful opportunity to take a place at rugby's top table and to shape the region," he said.

"If you look at who's involved with Welsh rugby, it's very wealthy and knowledgeable individuals who are involved for the love of the game.

"It's the start of the process. In terms of our success and competitiveness, we need that fresh injection (of money)".

Name game

The issue of the region's name would be up for any new owners to decide, with chairman Martyn Hazell admitting that it has been a problem since its launch in 2003.

The double-barrelled name has been a compromise to try to attract supporters within and outside the city of Newport.

Lyn Jones and Martyn Hazell
Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones and Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell

"It's been a problem, but I'm not sure what the answer is," he told BBC Wales Sport.

"Every time you want to move (change) it to Gwent, the Newport people object to it, and every time you want to do Newport, the Gwent people object. It wants addressing."

There are no plans to move the team away from Rodney Parade, which is owned by Newport RFC and also hosts Newport County AFC.

No closure threat

Chairman Hazell and leading benefactor Tony Brown are willing to give away their shares as part of the process of attracting investors.

But Davies made it clear there would be no danger of the operation closing down if investors cannot be found.

"It's incumbent on us all to find fresh investors, but if they don't come forward, it's business as usual and we continue as we are facing the issues we have, and cut our cloth accordingly," the former Wales number eight said.

The region next play at Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final on Saturday 9 April.