Pontypool RFC facing the end as club is handed £400,000 courts bill
9:40am Wednesday 18th July 2012 in Gwent news
PONTYPOOL RFC could go into liquidation after being slapped with a £400,000 legal bill yesterday after losing its High Court bid for reinstatement to the Premiership.
Sources inside the club said it faced liquidation or of trying to come to an arrangement to pay the massive costs back over 25 years.
The legal bill is double the club’s annual running costs.
Club directors were holding a crisis meeting last night. The club has fought valiantly for months against the Welsh Rugby Union’s decision to drop it from a newly constituted 12-team top division.
But yesterday, a senior judge said it would have been better for the club to have accepted an offer from the Union to allow it to drop its case weeks ago.
The offer would have meant Pontypool, who were champions of Wales five times between 1972 and 1988, accepted it had to play in the championship, but would not have had to pay the legal bills run up by the union.
Sir Raymond Jack said: “Given the outcome of the action, it can now be said that Pontypool should have accepted the WRU’s offer of May 28 to drop hands,”
WRU lawyers estimated the costs of the case at about £400,000, with approximately £250,000 run up by the union, which was represented in court by a top QC.
Prior to last month’s hearing, Pontypool’s backers had to give an assurance that they would be able to pay the union’s costs if the judge ruled against the club.
In a statement, the WRU said: "In making his decision the Judge recognised that Pontypool had decided to commence high court litigation as the means for resolving its claim. In defending the claim, the WRU has sought to protect its position on costs, with the court holding that the WRU has a duty to protect both itself and Welsh rugby."
Bobby Windsor: It is unbelievable
PONTYPOOL and Wales legend Bobby Windsor said: “I am just astounded. It is unbelievable. I am dumbstruck.”
Windsor, who was capped 28 times by Wales and five times for the British and Irish Lions, made a call for a breakdown of the legal costs and where the money was going.
He said: “Let’s have a look at the invoice for this £400,000 and see where it’s going.”
Lynne Neagle AM said: “I’m shocked and appalled at this latest development. It shows how far the WRU are now removed from community rugby and clubs like Pontypool who were, after all, one of the union’s founding members.
“This will come as a body blow for friends and supporters of the club, who were only just coming to terms with the fact that Pontypool will not be playing Premiership rugby next season.
“I really hope that the WRU see sense, and reverse this latest move. At the end of the day clubs like Pontypool are the lifeblood of Welsh rugby, the WRU should be doing everything they can to support them, not seeking to destroy them.”