NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Chris Brown is confident that an increase of their playing budget will help the region be more competitive on the pitch – but has stressed they won’t put the business at risk in a short-term bid to chase results.
The Rodney Parade region are deep in negotiations with a number of experienced players in key positions and plan to announce some signings next month.
That comes after the budget given to the coaching staff to build their squad was increased, albeit only by £300,000, to £3million. That figure is still £500,000 beneath the Welsh regions’ self-imposed salary cap and £1.5million short of the limit in England.
Brown exclusively stated in yesterday’s Argus that he believes the Dragons are in a strong position to avoid being victims of any change to the way the regions are funded by the Welsh Rugby Union, saying that their sustainable business made them an attractive investment.
Nonetheless, the region is languishing one from bottom of the RaboDirect Pro12 and has won just five of their 21 games this season. Marrying the desire for better on-field results with fiscal responsibility is vital for the chief executive.
“We have increased the rugby budget and are very actively looking to recruit several key players in key positions,” said Brown.
“The intention is to use them to anchor the team with a view to being mid-table within two years,” added Brown.
“We looked very carefully at different ways of getting from where we are to a competitive position.
“We looked at bringing in five or six with a view to getting there very quickly but the difficulty we had with that was that if we spend too much on the first team there is nothing coming up behind it.
“It's very important that we've got the first team, the second team and a whole raft going through the Premiership and the academy behind it.
“Our player budget will be £3million, the first team will cost around £2million and the rest will be spent on what is behind that.
“Obviously if you had an unlimited budget you’d have a raft of experience AND a raft of developing players, but we don’t.
“We actually think we have been reasonably competitive this season. Let’s be blunt, we’ve lost most of our games but have gone very close recently.
“We’ve played well and the squad is motivated and playing to the best of their ability. We are looking to do better next year by underpinning them with some experience.”
The Dragons, with the Bisley Stand conference facilities key to their business plan, are on target to break even this season while sponsorship revenue has increased from around £400,000 to £600,000. The aim is to increase that figure to £800,000 next term.
“We are determined to build a team alongside a sustainable business and it's just not acceptable to try and spend too much or to borrow to take the playing side to a different place,” said Brown.
“In order to be more competitive we need to have experience, we need to have developing Welsh players and we need to have foreign players making an effective contribution to what we are doing.”