Neath RFC handed over to finance company as Mike Cuddy leaves club

Neath players in huddle below a painted sign on the grandstand at the Gnoll ground
Neath have played at the Gnoll since the club's inception in 1871

Neath RFC ownership has been handed over to the finance company which brought a winding-up petition against the club before Christmas.

A deal has now been concluded for the Cardiff-based Jardine Norton to take charge of the club with previous owner Mike Cuddy no longer in control.

"I said I wanted to sell Neath RFC and I can now confirm that a deal has been concluded with Jardine Norton," said Cuddy.

"They are now the owners."

Cuddy previously told BBC Sport Wales he was willing to hand over the troubled club because of ill-health.

It was initially a condition called neurosarcoidosis, a stroke-like condition that has affected his mobility and speech before a brain injury was also later diagnosed.

"I have had health problems that have been diagnosed as a brain injury," said Cuddy.

"There was no way I could retain ownership and so I instructed my lawyers to sell."

Jardine Norton had a charge, effectively a mortgage, on Neath Rugby Limited from last summer and issued a winding up order against the club in December 2018.

During a hearing at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, a judge found Neath RFC was insolvent, but could not wind it up because paperwork relating to a £31,000 debt was "unclear".

Neath Rugby Limited were facing a further winding up order on 30 January.

Fresh start

Now stalwarts believe Jardine Norton will work in partnership with an established volunteer management team at Neath to return its ownership to the supporters of Wales' oldest club.

"It has been the toughest of times for all involved at Neath," said rugby secretary Mike Price.

"Supporters can now look forward to a brighter future and we are optimistic the business can be turned around over the coming months both on and off the field with a minimum of fuss.

"There is a lot of hard work to be done to restore Neath's pride and reputation and that will start now."

Price added: "The people of Neath will recognise Mike Cuddy's contribution to the club over the years."

Graham Jones, spokesman for the volunteer supporters group helping to run the club, said: "Stage one has now been resolved with the Cuddy family leaving Neath Rugby.

"Stage two is to stabilise Neath Rugby Limited with the help of Jardine Norton and stage three would be for the company to be passed to volunteers and supporters towards the end of the year."

Tough times

It has been a turbulent time for Neath and Cuddy.

Neath are bottom of the Welsh Premiership, with just three points from 17 games, and have suffered an exodus of players.

The club's financial problems led to postponed and cancelled fixtures. Calling off games against Bedwas and RGC cost the Welsh All Blacks six league points docked by the Welsh Rugby Union.

Neath were also fined £50 for pulling out of the WRU Cup match at Pontypool on 5 January.

Cuddy was declared personally bankrupt on 9 January, 2019 following a petition by creditor builder's merchants Buildbase, which was filed in November 2018.

Cuddy resigned as a Neath director on 14 January, when his wife Simone had assumed control as sole director.

The Cuddy Group, a demolition and civil engineering firm, collapsed in July 2018 while the Neath owner was ill.

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