Following misleading reports in some sections of the media, the chairman of
the Welsh Rugby Union, Glanmor Griffiths, has issued the following statement:
"I would like to make it clear to the rugby clubs of Wales that I have no intention of standing down as honorary treasurer of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Having been unopposed this summer in seeking re-election to that post for an 18th year, I would hardly leave the clubs high and dry by stepping down.
"It angers me that certain journalists do not have the courtesy to bring their tittle-tattle to me directly to ask for a straightforward answer on these matters. Had that happened in this case, then I would have been able to reiterate the fact that I am not someone who quits when there is still so much to be done.
"My overriding aim has always been to ensure both the Union and the Millennium Stadium are financially healthy. While I still feel I can usefully serve Welsh rugby, and the clubs continue to back me, I will carry on."
Regarding the financial position of the WRU and the Millennium Stadium plc, of which Mr Griffiths is also chairman,he said:
"The accounts for the past financial year for both the WRU and the Millennium Stadium have been with the clubs for the past two weeks. They show both companies are trading on a profitable basis.
"While that is most welcome, like every other business in Britain we have to review our costs, improve our revenue streams and find ways to become even more efficient. To that end, the WRU general committee has agreed to bring in an additional financial resource to supplement our existing financial department.
"This person will be appointed by the WRU and will be directly accountable to the General Committee via the Union's secretary, Dennis Gethin, and to me as the honorary treasurer.
"This is no knee-jerk reaction, nor is it at the behest of any outside organisation, but is a move initiated by the General Committee with a view to improving the financial position of both the WRU and the Millennium Stadium. We will also be inviting applications for our new post of Group Chief Executive in the next two weeks.
"These moves have been welcomed by our financial partners, Barclays Bank, who initially loaned us Â£60m to fund the building of the Millennium Stadium. We currently owe them Â£49m.
"The WRU has banked with Barclays for more than 100 years and they have helped us to fund the rebuilding of both the old Cardiff Arms Park and the Millennium Stadium.
"It was back in 1996 that Barclays initially agreed to provide the WRU with one of the biggest borrowing facilities ever negotiated with a Welsh company in Wales to enable us to build the Millennium Stadium.
"The WRU is now the proud owner of the biggest landmark in Wales, the greatest stadium in Europe and one of the world's greatest sporting arenas.
The Millennium Stadium is a considerable asset for both the WRU and Wales, and provides proper security for all our financial backers.
"And that is despite the fact that Â£4m is still owed on the riverwalk section of the stadium, there was a Â£4m shortfall on the maximum grant the Millennium Commission could have given us and the stadium is having to pay annual business rates of Â£1.1m. "If only the National Assembly would grant us the same concession as the Millennium Centre, which is receiving Â£80m of public funding, is set to be zero rated for business rates and had the land in Cardiff Bay given to it for free.
"The WRU still owns land adjacent to the Millennium Stadium that is valued
at around Â£7m, and in the past five years the revenue of the WRU Group has grown from Â£10m to Â£33m. That reflects the huge levels revenue we have been able to secure through sponsorship, TV income and gate receipts.
"However, with some tough times ahead, with only two instead of four home games in the Six Nations next season and no autumn internationals in 2003 because of the Rugby World Cup, we have recognised in advance the need to closely examine our finances and create a strategic plan to move our business forward.
"The new appointee, acting in a short-term, consultancy capacity, will play a vital role in this objective.
"As part of our overall financial review, we are also closely examining the payments to our international players. This review is aimed at bringing the Union's expenditure in this area more in line with other countries. There will be significant incentive packages, but it is the view of everyone that payments should be largely based around success."
A spokesman for Barclays Bank added:
"We have a long standing relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and we understand the complex nature of their business. We have worked very closely with them right from the start of the ambitious project to build the Millennium Stadium and continue to do so.
"Suggestions that the bank is sending in some sort of troubleshooter to the Union offices are untrue.
"We fully support the initiative taken by the WRU to bring in extra financial support.
"At Barclays, we will do everything possible to ensure that the WRU and the stadium have a bright future."
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