NEWPORT benefactor Tony Brown is not quitting Welsh rugby nor turning his back on Newport, though he will have nothing to do with the new Gwent region.

Reports in the Welsh edition of a London-based newspaper claim Brown is turning his back on Welsh rugby, and that Newport will struggle financially next season are inaccurate.

Brown will remain committed to Newport, though they will be playing at a much lower level in a semi-professional all-Welsh division with no promotion for the league winners.

But Brown will retain his contractual obligations with Newport, and will make sure the players and staff are covered according to the terms of their agreements.

He will do that despite Newport's funding from the WRU being cut to £50,000 a year, in line with all the other clubs in the division.

But his decision to pull out of the Gwent regional set-up completely will be a massive blow in view of all the funding he could have brought to it.

Brown declined to comment today but will make a full statement tomorrow.

Martin Hazell, Newport president, who will take Brown's place on the Gwent board, said: "It's a big blow for Gwent rugby because with Tony's funding it could have been the best area in Wales.

"But Tony will continue as a director of Newport Rugby Club and their main shareholder, so the club won't suffer."

Brown has decided to ditch Gwent because he completely disagrees with the recommendation of the WRU to call the side Gwent Dragons.

He is totally disillusioned with the way the region has been set up and with the decision of WRU group chief executive David Moffett to go with five regions not four as he had indicated.

The Gwent Dragons title will now almost certainly be ratified, whereas Brown wanted the Newport name to be in the title and backed the supporters' club petition which was signed by nearly 12,000 fans and also had the approval of city politicians.

The loss of his support to the Gwent region is almost incalculable after the millions he has pumped into Newport and the huge infrastructure he has set up at Rodney Parade.

How much of that will remain under the Gwent Dragons banner remains to be seen.

Major problems still have to be resolved, like the amount Newport charge Gwent for playing at Rodney Parade as well as the cost of the whole operation.

The players reported for training for the first time under Gwent coach Mike Ruddock today at their Cwmbran base. But the decision of Brown will leave a big cloud hanging over Gwent rugby which will take some time to lift.