UPDATE: 9.23pm

Following a lengthy meeting tonight, Newport RFC shareholders have voted to approve plans for a Welsh Rugby Union takeover of the club and Rodney Parade.

It would see the governing body of Welsh rugby rebranding the regional side and purchasing the nine-acre Rodney Parade site for £2.85 million.

The agreement between the governing body and the Dragons board needed approval from 75 per cent of voters with around 81 per cent voting yes.

For a full report of the meeting from our sports reporter Chris Kirwan, follow this link


THE FUTURE of Rodney Parade and Newport Gwent Dragons will be decided tonight at a meeting of shareholders.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) plans to take over Rodney Parade and Newport Gwent Dragons (NGD) have sparked heated debate since the idea was first suggested earlier this year.

If approved, it would see the governing body of Welsh rugby rebranding the regional side and purchasing the nine-acre Rodney Parade site for £2.85 million.

A WRU statement, published earlier this year, said: "On completion of the proposed transaction all current NGD employees will be taken on by the WRU and a new company will be formed which will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the WRU and will be free of any historic debt."

This would involve Newport and Gwent being dropped from the name and the team becoming simply ‘The Dragons’.

With that would come considerable financial investment in the historic ground - which is currently owned by Newport RFC, and also used by Newport County AFC.

The WRU has also expressed an interest in replacing the often-criticised grass pitch with an artificial one.

Shareholders and club figures, arriving ahead of the meeting, have voiced their views on their crucial vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ the WRU takeover.

Newport RFC club secretary, Dennis Bennett, indicated he would be voting for the WRU takeover.

He said: “I don’t think it’s a good deal and a bad deal for Newport RFC but it’s the only deal on the table.

“I think a ‘no’ would seize Newport and Rodney Parade into oblivion so it’s with a heavy heart that I will be voting for the WRU takeover”.

Shareholder John Williams, of Malpas area, said he was originally going to vote ‘no’ but is now undecided.

“We’re just going to see what the general feeling is and I know the WRU have offered a lot but there’s nothing guaranteed,” he said.

Richard Armstead, aged 56, of Newport, said his family have been shareholders in Newport RFC for over 100 years and is “undecided” on his vote.

“I was tempted with ‘no’ but then that leaves Newport with nothing, a club in debt and the reason they’re in debt is because of the introduction of the regions which I disagree with," he said.

“If you vote no you’re left with nothing but if you vote yes you get an initial donation which staves off bankruptcy.

“Having had a lot of experience with the dealings of the WRU, my mistrust is that in three-years-time they will pull the plug anyway and that Newport RFC and the Dragons will end in 2020".

“You have to vote logically when you’re in a corner with nowhere to go," he added.

Newport RFC– which has around 1,000 shareholders – will open to the decision to a vote at the meeting which will begin at 7pm.

This will be followed by a Q and A session ahead of the vote with the result expected at around 9pm.