WRU says it will consider taking over 'difficult' Newport Gwent Dragons
The Welsh Rugby Union may take over Newport Gwent Dragons if the region fails to attract new investment.
The WRU owns a 50% stake in the region and has expressed concerns.
The criticism comes despite Dragons' management unveiling plans to establish themselves as an independent region.
"If you looked at what a well-run successful, professional team looked like, we're not where we want to be with the Dragons," said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.
The Dragons have finished as the lowest Welsh region in eight out of 12 seasons in the Pro12 and have struggled to attract big-name signings and retain top Wales internationals.
With little sign of new investment being imminent, Phillips revealed a contingency plan would be put in place to ensure professional rugby remains in the region.
"They are in a difficult spot at the minute," said Phillips.
"They are out there looking for new investment. That's always a tough place to be whether you are a sports team or a business. Part of my job is to help get it there. That's what we need to do.
"We and they are working very closely and very hard on that, but the closer next season comes, the more urgency comes into that."
Asked whether the WRU would be willing to take over the region should their future be in doubt, Phillips replied: "You could not say no.
"If it came to that we would have to look at it, could we afford it and so on. But if that had to be, then that's what we would do.
"The big thing is there are 73 clubs in Gwent, they have a rich history and have always produced some amazing players, so there is no way that I would be able to stand here and not have a professional club in Gwent without knowing I had done everything I could.
"My view is, if you look at professional rugby clubs, they will have to have a combination of union funding and private investment going forward."