WELSH Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips wants the Dragons to get their independence back in order to flourish.

The region's chairman revealed to the Argus that he is in talks with private investors that would see the governing body become minority shareholders.

The WRU, who previously had a 50 per cent stake, took over the Dragons in the summer of 2017, buying the nine-acre Rodney Parade site from Newport RFC in the process.

Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys and Scarlets are privately-owned and Phillips believes it would be beneficial if Buttress can secure the backing that allows the region to be in the same boat.

"It's something that we are working on with David at the moment," said Phillips, who stressed that Rodney Parade would remain a Union asset.

"We have got a system at the moment where three are operating in one way and one is operating in another.

"It's not ideal and makes it tough for the Dragons because we need to be seen to be very even-handed and then David wants to go and do a whole bunch of things and is perhaps a little bit restricted because he is part of the WRU.

"I am not much of a fan of minority stakes, in many ways I would rather he ran it. That would be the ideal but maybe we will get some short of the ideal.

"But we are working with him and are very open to trying to divest at some point if we can."

He continued: "In an ideal world somebody else would run it, properly funded and away they go. We are not at that point yet so in the mean time we will do everything that we can to try and help."

South Wales Argus:

The WRU currently have to stump up the cash if the Dragons make a loss, a situation that Phillips is keen to avoid.

"When any of the other regions that loses money, the benefactor picks it up and nobody ever knows really," he said. "Somebody writes a cheque and they move on.

"At the Dragons we write the cheque but that's with full transparency in the Professional Rugby Board and we deal with that between ourselves.

"It hampers them at the minute, but I've heard a few people say that the Dragons aren't where they should be financially, but nobody is. It's just that one is transparent.

"Part of the negotiation of the Professional Rugby Agreement is to say that if the Dragons miss their numbers then it shouldn't affect the other regions. Rightly so, but hopefully at some point that is off the table because they have their independence."

The hope was that WRU ownership would lead to an upturn in fortunes for the Dragons but instead results have got worse. Nonetheless, Phillips has no regrets about stepping in.

"If I had my time over I would still do it because if you want to keep four (regions) then you have to put your money where your mouth is," he said.

"At the time we said it would take three or five years to build, two years in I wouldn't say that we are on track. We have found it tougher than we thought.

"We have tried to just be good partners and let David and the team get on with it. They do get less funding than the other guys and he is not a magician, so somehow or another it would be good to get some more funding in there. That is a big factor.

"But they've got to start winning games, that is stating the obvious but if they can do that then I know the market is there, so what we need to do is help them to win games."