EDITOR'S CHAIR: Is Newport's sporting ground-share dream turning into a nightmare?

County players thank the fans (5916158)

County players thank the fans (5916158)

First published in News

EARLIER this week I paid my first visit to Swansea's Liberty Stadium, to watch the Wales versus England under-21s football international.

For the non-sports fans among you, the Liberty is the home to both Premier League football club Swansea City and regional rugby side the Ospreys.

It was built by Swansea City Council and a developer-led consortium, with its £50 million cost met by revenue from a retail park built adjacent to the stadium.

It is a great venue and the perfect example of a ground-share, with equal billing given to the football and rugby teams that use the stadium.

If it has a downside, then it is one it shares with most new sports stadia in Britain, in that it is built on an out-of-town site.

Rodney Parade in Newport does not have such a problem, being in the centre of the city and easily accessible by foot, road or rail.

It is also shared by rugby and football teams, three in fact as Newport Gwent Dragons, Newport RFC and Newport County AFC all use Rodney Parade as their home ground.

But while Swansea might be the shining light of sporting ground-shares, sadly the same cannot be said of Newport.

My sources tell me relations between the football and rugby sections at Rodney Parade are at rock-bottom.

The two men who run the day-to-day businesses - Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies and his County counterpart Dave Boddy - are both positive, experienced, go-ahead characters who understand the need for the ground-share and desperately want it to succeed.

The problems seem to lie elsewhere at Rodney Parade.

There seems to be a suggestion - and this is my opinion based on attending all but one of County's home games this season and several of the Dragons' - that the football club is seen very much as a tenant rather than a partner by some among the rugby section's powerbrokers.

It seems ridiculous to me that from next season the football club will have a separate shop and ticket office to the rugby sides.

Such a move simply emphasises the divide between the two sporting codes at Rodney Parade. The ground-share does not seem to involve much sharing.

The worst possible scenario would be if Newport County ended up seeking an alternative home venue should the relationship between them and the rugby section break down entirely.

If that happened then it would be a disaster for the city's premier sporting clubs.

A genuine ground-share, allowing the clubs that use Rodney Parade to be equal partners at the venue, playing an equal role in its development, is the only sensible way forward.

There are a host of commercial arguments in favour of a Liberty Stadium-style operation at Rodney Parade.

The site is ripe for redevelopment and certainly has the space to become an all-seater (or part-seated, part terraced) stadium fit for top-level rugby and football.

County might only be in League Two and the Dragons may have had another poor season but the potential is there.

Swansea City had only just been promoted to League One when the Liberty Stadium was opened. Look at them now.

The rumblings I hear from inside Rodney Parade are worrying - and should be a concern for all genuine sports fans in Newport.

I understand there have been rows about issues like the pitch, match postponements and advertising hoardings.

Perhaps somebody independent needs to be brought in to arbitrate between the two codes and find a way forward. Perhaps heads need banging together.

I am amazed that there are those who still cannot see the long-term benefits and potential of the Rodney Parade ground-share.

It is the best way for the sporting clubs themselves to grow and - because of the stadium's location - it can provide huge benefits for the city as a whole, particularly as the city centre redevelopment takes shape.

Put simply, Newport needs to take a leaf out of Swansea's book.

Comments (17)

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9:02am Thu 22 May 14

Dafydd y Garreg Wen says...

Good article and one that certainly should concern all Newport sport fans. One question does arise however, if Newport County are regarded as only tenants, then what are the Dragons?
Good article and one that certainly should concern all Newport sport fans. One question does arise however, if Newport County are regarded as only tenants, then what are the Dragons? Dafydd y Garreg Wen
  • Score: 22

9:05am Thu 22 May 14

keithbob says...

agree entirely,the ground needs bringing up to 21st century standard,apart from the bisley stand,the rest of the ground is victorian.and you wouldnt know newport county were playing there,its easy to miss their number plate size sign on the main gate where it say home of newport gwent dragons!.
working together may also bring a roof for the unprotected north terrace too.
why not advertise games on a sign on newport bridge like we used to have before that bloody housing development came there.
agree entirely,the ground needs bringing up to 21st century standard,apart from the bisley stand,the rest of the ground is victorian.and you wouldnt know newport county were playing there,its easy to miss their number plate size sign on the main gate where it say home of newport gwent dragons!. working together may also bring a roof for the unprotected north terrace too. why not advertise games on a sign on newport bridge like we used to have before that bloody housing development came there. keithbob
  • Score: 15

10:45am Thu 22 May 14

Oddjob says...

The ground is owned by shreholders, the main one being Tony Brown (I own 960 shares) so from that basis the three teams who play at Rodney Parade are all tenants. Why don't Newport County ask Tony Brown to sell them some of his shares? Why doesn't the Argus editor petition Newport City Council to build a stadium that both rugby and football share on an equal basis as in Swansea? Comparing the Liberty stadium and Rodney Parade situations is in my opinion just s@@t stirring by the Argus. They will never stand on an equal footing as long as Rodney Parade is owned by shareholders as well Mr Editor you know..
The ground is owned by shreholders, the main one being Tony Brown (I own 960 shares) so from that basis the three teams who play at Rodney Parade are all tenants. Why don't Newport County ask Tony Brown to sell them some of his shares? Why doesn't the Argus editor petition Newport City Council to build a stadium that both rugby and football share on an equal basis as in Swansea? Comparing the Liberty stadium and Rodney Parade situations is in my opinion just s@@t stirring by the Argus. They will never stand on an equal footing as long as Rodney Parade is owned by shareholders as well Mr Editor you know.. Oddjob
  • Score: 9

10:54am Thu 22 May 14

NakedDancer says...

A good article. The city centre location is crying out for redevelopment as a multi-purpose stadium for rugby/footy and non sporting events. However, the funding arrangements would be very complex. Newport RFC wholly own the ground and with the future of the Dragons forever unclear, Newport RFC have no reason to drive redevelopment. It would need Newport Council or WRU to take the lead and find a workable solution for all parties.
A good article. The city centre location is crying out for redevelopment as a multi-purpose stadium for rugby/footy and non sporting events. However, the funding arrangements would be very complex. Newport RFC wholly own the ground and with the future of the Dragons forever unclear, Newport RFC have no reason to drive redevelopment. It would need Newport Council or WRU to take the lead and find a workable solution for all parties. NakedDancer
  • Score: 4

11:02am Thu 22 May 14

On the inside says...

It is not the job of the council to build sports stadiums for the private sector. It is the job of the directors to make the ground profitable. Why is there this assumption that the public sector is bad apart from when the private sector wants bailing out. If you want to be a business owner then fine as long as you understand that if you are bad at it your business must fail. Rodney parade has three teams all with reasonable support and new deals have been negotiated with major funder's and advertisers, what's the problem. The directors need to sort this out for all teams.

I only have one gripe as a Dragons season ticked holder, why is it not possible to have the full seasons fixtures published before the season starts, not drip feed about a month in advance. If all games were 3pm on a Saturday it would be OK but if they are going to be all over the place like last season then fans need to diarise games in advance.
It is not the job of the council to build sports stadiums for the private sector. It is the job of the directors to make the ground profitable. Why is there this assumption that the public sector is bad apart from when the private sector wants bailing out. If you want to be a business owner then fine as long as you understand that if you are bad at it your business must fail. Rodney parade has three teams all with reasonable support and new deals have been negotiated with major funder's and advertisers, what's the problem. The directors need to sort this out for all teams. I only have one gripe as a Dragons season ticked holder, why is it not possible to have the full seasons fixtures published before the season starts, not drip feed about a month in advance. If all games were 3pm on a Saturday it would be OK but if they are going to be all over the place like last season then fans need to diarise games in advance. On the inside
  • Score: 5

12:58pm Thu 22 May 14

Roland Thompson-Gunner says...

Afraid RP has next to nothing going for it as a football ground other than it has passed the grading for entry to the League. And that's ignoring pitch quality. The Hazell side is fundamentally the same as it was in the 60s. You can get soaked half-way up the Bisley and many seats above the entry points should really be sold as "restricted view" because the handrails are in the way. Plus the distance between the open terrace and the goal line is huge. It does really need a rebuild on three sides, but who could fund that?
Afraid RP has next to nothing going for it as a football ground other than it has passed the grading for entry to the League. And that's ignoring pitch quality. The Hazell side is fundamentally the same as it was in the 60s. You can get soaked half-way up the Bisley and many seats above the entry points should really be sold as "restricted view" because the handrails are in the way. Plus the distance between the open terrace and the goal line is huge. It does really need a rebuild on three sides, but who could fund that? Roland Thompson-Gunner
  • Score: 6

1:40pm Thu 22 May 14

NakedDancer says...

On the inside wrote:
It is not the job of the council to build sports stadiums for the private sector. It is the job of the directors to make the ground profitable. Why is there this assumption that the public sector is bad apart from when the private sector wants bailing out. If you want to be a business owner then fine as long as you understand that if you are bad at it your business must fail. Rodney parade has three teams all with reasonable support and new deals have been negotiated with major funder's and advertisers, what's the problem. The directors need to sort this out for all teams. I only have one gripe as a Dragons season ticked holder, why is it not possible to have the full seasons fixtures published before the season starts, not drip feed about a month in advance. If all games were 3pm on a Saturday it would be OK but if they are going to be all over the place like last season then fans need to diarise games in advance.
County have average gates of 3,600 and Newport RFC just a few hundred.

The rough rule of thumb for new build is £1M per 1,000 fans.
Hence a new build would be £15M+ and the Dragons gates alone would never fund that.

Like the Liberty - a body (council, WRU, consortium) would need to raise the funds based on a wider business case eg stadium sponsorship, non sporting events, forecast progress of the rugby & footy teams (hence bigger gate receipts, food/drink etc).
[quote][p][bold]On the inside[/bold] wrote: It is not the job of the council to build sports stadiums for the private sector. It is the job of the directors to make the ground profitable. Why is there this assumption that the public sector is bad apart from when the private sector wants bailing out. If you want to be a business owner then fine as long as you understand that if you are bad at it your business must fail. Rodney parade has three teams all with reasonable support and new deals have been negotiated with major funder's and advertisers, what's the problem. The directors need to sort this out for all teams. I only have one gripe as a Dragons season ticked holder, why is it not possible to have the full seasons fixtures published before the season starts, not drip feed about a month in advance. If all games were 3pm on a Saturday it would be OK but if they are going to be all over the place like last season then fans need to diarise games in advance.[/p][/quote]County have average gates of 3,600 and Newport RFC just a few hundred. The rough rule of thumb for new build is £1M per 1,000 fans. Hence a new build would be £15M+ and the Dragons gates alone would never fund that. Like the Liberty - a body (council, WRU, consortium) would need to raise the funds based on a wider business case eg stadium sponsorship, non sporting events, forecast progress of the rugby & footy teams (hence bigger gate receipts, food/drink etc). NakedDancer
  • Score: 3

2:13pm Thu 22 May 14

NakedDancer says...

Oddjob wrote:
The ground is owned by shreholders, the main one being Tony Brown (I own 960 shares) so from that basis the three teams who play at Rodney Parade are all tenants. Why don't Newport County ask Tony Brown to sell them some of his shares? Why doesn't the Argus editor petition Newport City Council to build a stadium that both rugby and football share on an equal basis as in Swansea? Comparing the Liberty stadium and Rodney Parade situations is in my opinion just s@@t stirring by the Argus. They will never stand on an equal footing as long as Rodney Parade is owned by shareholders as well Mr Editor you know..
I dont know what 50% share in Rodney Parade Ltd would be but I'm guessing £ millions. County haven't got that money and even if they could raise it a) Rodney Parade Ltd / Tony Brown would only sell the shares if there was some benefit to the rugby b) County would more likely invest in their own ground elsewhere, better players or a training ground.
[quote][p][bold]Oddjob[/bold] wrote: The ground is owned by shreholders, the main one being Tony Brown (I own 960 shares) so from that basis the three teams who play at Rodney Parade are all tenants. Why don't Newport County ask Tony Brown to sell them some of his shares? Why doesn't the Argus editor petition Newport City Council to build a stadium that both rugby and football share on an equal basis as in Swansea? Comparing the Liberty stadium and Rodney Parade situations is in my opinion just s@@t stirring by the Argus. They will never stand on an equal footing as long as Rodney Parade is owned by shareholders as well Mr Editor you know..[/p][/quote]I dont know what 50% share in Rodney Parade Ltd would be but I'm guessing £ millions. County haven't got that money and even if they could raise it a) Rodney Parade Ltd / Tony Brown would only sell the shares if there was some benefit to the rugby b) County would more likely invest in their own ground elsewhere, better players or a training ground. NakedDancer
  • Score: 4

7:21pm Thu 22 May 14

Frankfurt says...

Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.
Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option. Frankfurt
  • Score: 3

7:28pm Thu 22 May 14

The People's Republic of Newp says...

Dafydd y Garreg Wen wrote:
Good article and one that certainly should concern all Newport sport fans. One question does arise however, if Newport County are regarded as only tenants, then what are the Dragons?
Cuckoos.
[quote][p][bold]Dafydd y Garreg Wen[/bold] wrote: Good article and one that certainly should concern all Newport sport fans. One question does arise however, if Newport County are regarded as only tenants, then what are the Dragons?[/p][/quote]Cuckoos. The People's Republic of Newp
  • Score: 0

7:48pm Thu 22 May 14

keithbob says...

You can get soaked half-way up the Bisley and many seats above the entry points should really be sold as "restricted view" because the handrails are in the way .predicted all this back when bisley was being built,was at a sevens game on a summers day when we had a shower of rain and could see the first rows of concrete steps getting wet.also noticed the slope of the roof going upwards giving no protection from our poor climate.,bad design in my opinion.
You can get soaked half-way up the Bisley and many seats above the entry points should really be sold as "restricted view" because the handrails are in the way .predicted all this back when bisley was being built,was at a sevens game on a summers day when we had a shower of rain and could see the first rows of concrete steps getting wet.also noticed the slope of the roof going upwards giving no protection from our poor climate.,bad design in my opinion. keithbob
  • Score: 3

8:09pm Thu 22 May 14

Mr Bump. says...

Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived.
Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived. Mr Bump.
  • Score: -9

9:31am Fri 23 May 14

NakedDancer says...

Frankfurt wrote:
Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.
Very interesting points. Caerphilly County Borough have just opened a £6.8M Centre for Sporting Excellence so a £20m rebuild of Rodney Parade is doable but it needs someone with the vision to define the business case and capability to deliver it. I can't see that being the footy or rugby.
[quote][p][bold]Frankfurt[/bold] wrote: Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.[/p][/quote]Very interesting points. Caerphilly County Borough have just opened a £6.8M Centre for Sporting Excellence so a £20m rebuild of Rodney Parade is doable but it needs someone with the vision to define the business case and capability to deliver it. I can't see that being the footy or rugby. NakedDancer
  • Score: 2

1:08pm Fri 23 May 14

throwy1 says...

Frankfurt wrote:
Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.
Personally I would suggest Newport RFC keep well away from any deal that gives County any equity
[quote][p][bold]Frankfurt[/bold] wrote: Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.[/p][/quote]Personally I would suggest Newport RFC keep well away from any deal that gives County any equity throwy1
  • Score: 2

4:41pm Fri 23 May 14

Frankfurt says...

throwy1 wrote:
Frankfurt wrote:
Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.
Personally I would suggest Newport RFC keep well away from any deal that gives County any equity
I can see your point. If County went into administration the rugby club could find themselves trying to buy back their own ground.
[quote][p][bold]throwy1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Frankfurt[/bold] wrote: Rodney Parade is owned by Newport RFC (and therefore by Tony Brown who owns most of the shares in the rugby club) but it is subject to a mortgage in favour of a Spanish Bank (as can be seen from a Land registry search). I presume it was mortgaged to help pay for the building of the Bisley Stand. It was taken out around the time the stand was built. So Newport RFC might be interested in a deal which relieved them of their mortgage liabilities in return for a share of the equity being awarded to Newport County. Most recent improvements at the stadium have come at the instigation of the football club, principally the pitch overhaul and the extra seats. These also benefit the rugby clubs. But there must be a limit to what County are prepared to invest without owning a share in the ground. Whether County's long term future lies at RP or elsewhere is still to be decided. Sharing with 2 rugby clubs as yet to prove that it is the best option.[/p][/quote]Personally I would suggest Newport RFC keep well away from any deal that gives County any equity[/p][/quote]I can see your point. If County went into administration the rugby club could find themselves trying to buy back their own ground. Frankfurt
  • Score: 1

8:30am Wed 28 May 14

Dai Trying says...

Mr Bump. wrote:
Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived.
Professional sport in Newport was born the day The Dragons were concieved, Newport RFC are a club to many in this ground share partnership and should be shipped out to another ground. That will give the pitch a chance to recover between games.
[quote][p][bold]Mr Bump.[/bold] wrote: Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived.[/p][/quote]Professional sport in Newport was born the day The Dragons were concieved, Newport RFC are a club to many in this ground share partnership and should be shipped out to another ground. That will give the pitch a chance to recover between games. Dai Trying
  • Score: -2

5:10pm Wed 28 May 14

Newportg says...

Dai Trying wrote:
Mr Bump. wrote:
Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived.
Professional sport in Newport was born the day The Dragons were concieved, Newport RFC are a club to many in this ground share partnership and should be shipped out to another ground. That will give the pitch a chance to recover between games.
Here's the facts!!! The shareholders of Newport RFC (of which I'm one) own Rodney Parade. And any decision regarding the ground requires a physical majority of shareholders to agree. i.e. one shareholder one vote. This was enshrined in the constitution of the company by Tony Brown when it was created. County, like the Dragons are very welcome on our ground, but the one team that will always play there is Newport RFC!!!.
[quote][p][bold]Dai Trying[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mr Bump.[/bold] wrote: Professional sport in Newport died the day the Gwent Dragons were conceived.[/p][/quote]Professional sport in Newport was born the day The Dragons were concieved, Newport RFC are a club to many in this ground share partnership and should be shipped out to another ground. That will give the pitch a chance to recover between games.[/p][/quote]Here's the facts!!! The shareholders of Newport RFC (of which I'm one) own Rodney Parade. And any decision regarding the ground requires a physical majority of shareholders to agree. i.e. one shareholder one vote. This was enshrined in the constitution of the company by Tony Brown when it was created. County, like the Dragons are very welcome on our ground, but the one team that will always play there is Newport RFC!!!. Newportg
  • Score: 1

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