Another Project Reset blog? Yeah go on then!
So far we have looked at how a lack of money is the core problem in Welsh rugby, why dropping to two teams would have a negative impact on the national team, and the first of the social media rumours that talked of Dragons and RGC ‘merging’.
Now though, as the wait for information heads into another week and supporters are left in the lurch not knowing what awaits next season, never mind some of the players who have their livelihoods on the line, the amount of rumours increase.
One rumour in particular that has been mentioned a lot over the weekend is regarding a possible merger between Cardiff Blues and Ospreys.
Before I get into it, it has to be stressed this is purely a rumour so far, it has been mentioned enough to be worthy of a blog but not confirmed by enough reliable sources to be close to the truth, so this is just a speculative piece of writing. Basically, don’t get your knickers in a twist.
The rumour itself sort of ties in with other whispers regarding new teams entering the Guinness Pro14 next season, particularly a new South African entry that has been talked about since the Cheetahs and Kings came on board last season.
And you can sort of see how it might work in terms of the funding that Welsh rugby does, or rather doesn’t have.
The Professional Rugby Board may have more success properly funding two teams and operating a third as a development region, allowing the two top tier sides to compete in the Guinness Pro14 and Heineken Champions Cup, with the third team benefitting from the best of the young players coming through before they move on.
However, the list of issues that arise from any attempted merger of Cardiff Blues and Ospreys is of such a length that I am bound to miss some out in what follows.
Firstly, what would the team be called, and where would they be based? Is it more Cardiff Blues taking on the Ospreys in a similar way to how the Celtic Warriors became part of the region, or would it be a full merger?
Coming up with a brand that once rival sets of fans could both support would be an extremely tough job, while deciding where home games would be played is a key aspect. Convincing a supporter to travel from Cardiff to Swansea or vice versa on a Friday night would be some feat.
Then there’s the rugby question of who forms the coaching staff and which players are kept on. Currently both teams have a full set of coaches under contract, and at this point it appears more than 70 players under contract, never mind the quality players out of contract in each squad at the end of the season.
Also off the field, where are the offices based? And who becomes part of the behind the scenes staff? Both current sides have admin, ticketing, media and management staff that will not all have jobs in a merged company.
This is before broaching legal issues which are all comfortably over my head.
It is also worth pointing out that the aforementioned budget increases aren’t even assured as we don’t currently know what would happen to the money pot that the Professional Rugby Board have to work with if we drop to three professional teams.
The majority of that money comes from competition earnings that are funneled from the Pro14 through the WRU to the regions, however the likelihood is that this money would reduce on a pro rata basis.
With no guarantee that existing sponsors would hang around to put money into any new or merged entity, the risks associated with a seismic shift like Cardiff Blues and Ospreys becoming one are far too big to go through with any decision.
At this point we are still no closer to finding out what exactly Project Reset is, and the danger is that people are slowly switching from anger to not caring. That is very dangerous.