DRAGONS chairman David Buttress says the decision to ban supporters from their New Year’s Day derby against Cardiff is “devastating” and “brutal”.

The fixture against the men from the Arms Park is traditionally the region’s biggest money-spinner but it is set to be played behind closed doors.

The Welsh government has ruled that supporters will not be able to attend sporting events from Boxing Day because of the coronavirus Omicron variant.

Newport County AFC’s home fixture against Forest Green Rovers on December 26 has already been postponed because of a Covid outbreak in the visitors’ camp while the Dragons’ trip to Swansea suffered the same fate because the Ospreys are also having issues.

Dean Ryan’s men are scheduled to host Cardiff to start 2022 and ticket and hospitality sales had been going well but now the United Rugby Championship derby will be played to the sound of silence.

South Wales Argus: BACKING: Dragons fans won't be at Rodney Parade on New Year's DayBACKING: Dragons fans won't be at Rodney Parade on New Year's Day

“Nobody should underestimate this. It is devastating for professional rugby and sport. We have done everyone to support, comply and drive/support Covid community initiatives,” said Buttress.

“I may not be thanked for being frank, but this is horrendous news for us. This is brutal news.”

The Dragons are set to make an announcement about refunds in the coming days.

Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething said a £3million fund will be in place to "support" clubs and venues, although the detail is yet to be revealed for that assistance.

"The support they’ve put in place is inadequate, we have not been consulted and we have to make our case," said Buttress.

"Imagine the pressure we are all under already, politicians need to recognise their decisions have huge implications and they need to support them with accessible financial aid."

The Dragons travel to the Scarlets on January 8, the same day that County host Salford City.

As things stand Exiles fans will be able to watch their team play away at Leyton Orient on Wednesday, December 29 and Walsall on New Year’s Day.

The Welsh Grand National at Chepstow is on Monday, December 27 while Ebbw Vale host Newport on the same day in the Welsh Premiership.

"Am I missing something here, not allowed to watch sport in open air stadiums with the ability to socially distance… but can watch the same games on TV in a poorly ventilated crowded pub/bar? Seems logical," Tweeted Dragons academy coach Sam Hobbs.

The Scarlets have lost two bumper crowds with the Ospreys and Dragons both visiting Llanelli for derbies.

"Bitterly disappointed. After the past few weeks we were all looking to bring some festive derby cheer into people's lives," said chairman Simon Muderack.

"Clearly people's safety is paramount. However, the commercial impacts to all of us as clubs is catastrophic without significant further support."