Supporters deserve the Project Reset details

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This sentence is more than likely to have been written a number of times since rugby union turned professional in 1995, but this week could well be a defining one for Welsh rugby.

Across two days a meeting will take place with representatives of the Welsh Rugby Union, each regional side and two non-executive members forming the new Professional Rugby Board, setup as part of Project Reset.

The meeting will decide how the pot of money that the WRU pays to the professional sides for things such as access to international players is split between the four sides.

Previously the money has been split four ways, however, the demise and subsequent Union takeover of the Newport Gwent Dragons, as well as the general lack of competitiveness the Welsh sides have struggled with in the Pro14 and Europe, has led to a possible re-think of this strategy.

In a bid to try and get at least some of our representatives regularly into the Pro14 play-offs and Heineken Cup knockout stages, the rumour is that a new funding model that involves at least one team being ‘downgraded’ to a development region is being considered, so that other teams subsequently have access to more money.

Sale Sharks v Cardiff Blues - Heineken Cup
Qualifying and competing in the Heineken Cup needs to be a focus

Now, there whys and wherefores of those funding models are available to be debated until people are blue in the face, or blue in the thumb for Twitter users, but the one definite conclusion to be drawn is that some people are going to be upset with the outcome no matter what it is.

I’m not going to get bogged down in what model works best for different people, it could end up across a few different blogs, but what I’m keen to see is supporters remembered as a key part of the Welsh game in any new deal.

With kick-off days and times different every week, the season traversing through the cold and wet Northern Hemisphere winters and trips to away games in this inter-continental league and in European competition coming at great expense, more often than not the supporters are not entirely credited as the lifeblood of any club.

Admittedly, not all are particularly concerned with the political side of Welsh rugby, and it’s hard to blame them such are the complications, number of different players involved at boardroom level and selfish agendas that run through some suits, never mind the in-fighting on social media!

However, there are plenty of people who do like to know what is going on with the business side of the club and would be interested by the outcome of the meetings this week.

Last time we had the regions and the WRU thrash out the details of an agreement, the Rugby Services Agreement was created but details were kept closely guarded, with only leaks to journalists available in the public domain.

This left those of us in the terraces in the dark about certain aspects of our team’s off field dealings, and paved the way for some persistent rumours over the last few years about the financial state of affairs.

Alun Jones Peter Thomas
Alun Jones (left) is the Cardiff Blues representative on the PRB

It’s important to say that I’m not expecting the full details of any deal or agreement to be published, there will of course be legal aspects that some or all parties would prefer be kept private.

However, there is no reason why the general gist of Project Reset, including information on the funding model that will hopefully be agreed this week, can’t be put out there by the new PRB through the WRU and the regions.Firstly, this would hopefully go some way to trying to appease any supporters who are disappointed by the outcome of the meetings, with solid reasoning shown behind any decisions made.

On the flip side, it can also make the PRB accountable if they have made an incorrect decision, giving the supporters a chance to voice their concerns as key stakeholders in Welsh professional level rugby.

And this is the second and key point, that the supporters are a major part of the professional game. We have been here before the current suits were taking decisions, and we’ll be here long after they have moved on. We are the heart and soul.

So in this new era of co-operation and working together, why not include the supporters? Ensure we feel valued as a part of the professional game and engaged with the PRB, opening them up to scrutiny from the terraces over the big decisions they are making.

Maybe then we can enter this brave new world together…

2 comments

  1. Whatnot have written really rings true. The suits so often forget about what makes the game so great…the Supporters! Without the fans the game itself would feel lifeless, moral would suffer and very unlikely that anyone would want to sign for us. Well worded and nicely put squire

    Like

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