Minutes of the meeting held with representatives of the Joint Supporters Group and RRW

Monday 17th February 2014

Points discussed

1. There is still no agreement in place with RRW and WRU for next season and still no idea on where they are playing no matter what spin the WRU put on it. The RRW are waiting for yet another detail document from WRU! The detail of the first draft is so controlling no one can quite believe it. For example there is sub clauses that potentially if the Union centrally contracted enough players and the 4th Autumn international did not take place the regions would have to pay the WRU money

Why is this not being allowed to progress? All seems laden down in unnecessary detail at this stage. What we surely need is to broadly agree the principles on which we can progress and then build the detail around that.

2. Europe - essentially what in principle has been agreed at the meeting in Paris - 2 x 20 team tournament operated by 6 Nations with qualification from Rabo.
This is exactly what the English Clubs and RRW requested back in October, the Unions agree to but then backtracked!! So we're back to 6 months ago!
Since October WRU have always insisted any competition must be ERC, now they have
changed their mind but we wasted 6 months

3. ERC payments being withheld on what grounds and what is the Chief Exec’s stance on these continuing to be withheld? As a director of ERC and the CEO of WRU is there not a conflict of interest?
Prior to Paris meeting there was a meeting of the 6 Nations at Heathrow which Nigel Short and Mark
Davies who attended on behalf of RRW. Bill Beaumont and Ian Ritchie from RFU were very keen to push for an agreement from all parties to a new competition structure, which they believed they had achieved, but WRU later said that was not agreed and Italy a day later. WRU and IRFU said they could not change anything unless ERC had no liability but they think it does. There were no minutes taken at the meeting!

Paris Meeting - Richard Holland attended on behalf of RRW ERC still insisted they have potential liability and have legal advice that this is the case so cannot make the distribution of monies.

RRW have not seen this legal advice. RRW has reviewed the minutes of all ERC meetings and believe their lawyers confirmed there would be no liability in 2012. The minutes don't confirm a decision to withhold money in September, they state there will be a Board meeting before Jan that will decide if the money is paid, but there was no meeting!

The Finance committee at the end of January confirmed no payment but Regions were not told of this.
The WRU Finance Director attended the Finance committee meeting, but the WRU finance dept confirmed to all the Regions in emails that payment should be made at the beginning of the week.

4. Apparently there are meetings between Sky and BT this week but Mark is not clear how these have any effect on the situation as the minutes say there is no liability on ERC directors. But hopefully TV position on Europe should be known this week.

5. WRU - RRW have written to WRU yet again quoting minutes of various ERC and other meetings over the last few years to question why money is being withheld. Stuart Gallacher resigned from the ERC Board when the Regions said they formally supported the new RCC. Although Stuart had deliberately not been involved in any discussion on the RCC because he was a Director of ERC, he would be legally and morally conflicted in his duty as a Director once the Regions said they supported RCC

The Regions don't understand how that conflict of interest does not apply to the WRU CEO. They do not see how he is able to be an ERC director and WRU Chief Exec and have the best interests of Welsh rugby at the forefront when negotiating a new competition that is not an ERC competition! Too many hats!

6. Need for independent review of finances and the distribution of monies from the Union still stands. Moffett has been highlighting some interesting figures recently on social media. If his claims regarding cash surplus are true, why are clubs and regions being made to struggle to such an extent?

7. Need to address governance issues at the WRU; again an independent enquiry is needed. Are the Chairman and the board really holding the Chief exec Lewis to account?

8. Why was Josh Lewsey given that role and why did one man interview and make the decision for such an important role. Surely someone with the right qualities for the role is far more important than just employing a 'Name'

a. Should the Chief exec make such decisions it is after all the Unions money
not his
b. Who is the Chief Exec accountable to?
c. Where is David Pickering in these discussions?
9. Focus of WRU remains on central contracts, even though it has been claimed that they are not the answer. Priestland signing for Scarlet’s today so WRU still only has one player on a central deal - how is that going to work?

10. Lack of progress on competitions in particular the league. How are we meant to look at season tickets, sponsorship etc

11. Scrum V editing of the ‘Debate’ The Joint Supporters Group lodged a complaint with the BBC in regards to this. Although a response has been received to the complaint it has failed to address all the issued raised. Due to this it will now be referred to the BBC Trust to respond.

12. There is still no sponsor for the proposed Pro 12 as it was advised that the Unions reps cannot proceed to get a sponsor until Europe is sorted. So can WRU etc advise then how France and England seem to be OK with their sponsors then, they continues to seek sponsors during the uncertainty. Maybe they finally realise Pro 12 is a dead product.

13. BBC, S4C and possibly Sky are yet to sign contracts to televise Pro 12 next season so what about the revenue there?

14. If Italy do stay will they still pay into the Pro 12 otherwise all other competing teams will lose out due to added travel expenditures

15. Cash Flow - Regions have all replied to WRU's offer of a loan until end of March. They are waiting to hear if the Board approve that this week. If ERC money not released in the next few weeks, the Regions situation is very serious. They are hopeful that the ERC money will be released at the next meeting hence the WRU offering the loans - they cannot use the loans as cash like the delayed payment because the loan has to be paid back latest 31 March or at any time, the money from ERC did not have to be paid back !

16. Are IRFU, SRFU doing more to obtain better TV deals and therefore helping to improve the image of the league? If not is it not about time to say Ireland you brought in £900,000 from Irish TV enjoy, Scotland how is that £120,000 looking oh and Wales you have £3.2 million from TV deals
fill your boots!

17. Premiership League - Still discussing with the English as the English clubs can't make a fixture list either and if no Europe they have free weekends. The Premiership Clubs are realistic and positive. Now the English clubs can't launch season tickets either so it is more urgent every day.

In summary it seems like a deal is still a long way off on anything. RRW seem hopeful a European deal will be sorted along the lines of the RCC for next season but run by a 6N committee. I think they also feel that the RABO will be where the League rugby will be played as despite press reports the Italians will almost definitely play again next season. I think the hope is still for an Anglo-Welsh but that seems less likely.

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