DIRECTOR Kevin Ward has warned that it is “not viable” for Newport County AFC to continue to play at Rodney Parade unless changes are made to the current agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union.

County have a lease to play their home matches at the stadium until 2023.

But the club says the cost of playing at Rodney Parade has increased by 100 per cent since the ground was taken over by the WRU last summer.

Ward, former editor of the South Wales Argus, told tonight’s supporters’ open meeting: “My view is that the preferential position would be for us to remain in this venue but if we are to carry on in our current situation and the current terms of licence we play under, it’s not viable.”

County made between £700,000 and £900,000 from their run to the FA Cup fourth round this year, which ended in defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in a Wembley replay.

But the club says the increase in match staging costs has played a major part in their current financial difficulties.

“The club has been in dialogue with the WRU for some time due to the increase in costs at Rodney Parade,” said a club statement.

“These costs have increased by 100 per cent since the WRU takeover.

“There are areas where the club do not agree with what it is being asked to pay and we are engaging accordingly.”

Ward's fellow director Shaun Johnson added: "We have a good relationship with the WRU and feel they have been fair.

"We are discussing with them the cost of a match day. Rodney Parade charged us less but the Desso pitch was a great investment."

As well as the “significant increase” in money paid to the WRU, the Exiles’ financial problems were put down to: the £350,000 deficit last season due to contractual pay-offs and the position of the team; the ongoing contribution to the Desso pitch, the “lower than anticipated” Wembley replay income; and “football bonuses”.

The board of directors have questioned the viability of the supporters’ Trust ownership model and they will now begin a six-week consultation period to ask the members what ownership model they would prefer.

“In simple terms, the Trust contributes £30,000 per year to the club,” said the club statement.

“As the owner and majority shareholder, this is not enough for a business that turns over £2.2million a year.”

The club says there are three options: to “stay as we are but with more financial input from the Trust” to sell the club or “blended ownership” involving “supporters, businessmen and the council”.

The statement concluded: “The club has limited debt but it has no assets and thus it finds itself in an unusual position.

“The position we are in this close season is better than last season as a result of the cup run.

“However, we need to ensure we have a sustainable ownership model and cost base and hence the time is right to have that debate.”