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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 12:25 GMT
London Welsh keen on Celtic move
Magners League
London Welsh believe their future could lie in the Magners League
London Welsh have revealed an ambition to turn their backs on the English league to join the Celtic League as a fifth Welsh region.

The National League One side have written to the Welsh Rugby Union asking for a meeting to discuss their future.

The club told BBC Sport they would fund themselves for the first seasons and play their home games at Brentford FC.

"I think we would bring a great deal to the Magners League," said London Welsh operations manager Peter Thomas.

"Geographically, it would mean the league would have a team playing in each of the capital cities, which would be great.

"In terms of bringing in potential sponsors, I think having a club based in London would help with that.

"And if you look at what we could pull in in terms of crowds, we would end up with very healthy gates."

A potential agreement between the English Premiership clubs and the Rugby Football Union has prompted London Welsh to consider their position in the English club system.

We'd have to be in a position where we'd be self-funding until we've proved our worth

London Welsh operations manager Peter Thomas

The deal would ring-fence England's top division by ending promotion from and relegation to League One in return for the England national side having greater access to the Premiership stars.

London Welsh, who are members of the RFU and WRU, believe that such a deal would hinder the club's development and jeopardise its future.

"We've got to be aware of the current change in the RFU and what they might bring in which enforces a natural change to our set-up," said London Welsh director of rugby Martin Jones.

"If we could remain with the WRU that would be a major boost for Welsh rugby and London Welsh as a club."

The WRU got rid of its fifth professional region, Celtic Warriors, in 2004, claiming they could only afford to sustain four sides.

606 DEBATE: What are your views on this possibility?

The existing four Welsh regions would be unlikely to support any expansion if it means their income from the WRU being split five ways.

But London Welsh insist they would not expect any funds from the WRU for the first few seasons until they could prove that overall commercial income had risen.

"We'd have to be in a position where we'd be self-funding until we've proved our worth," added Thomas.

The other issue of concern to London Welsh is whether they should continue to play at their spiritual home at Old Deer Park in west London.

The stadium is on Crown land and developing the site is unlikely to be given the go-ahead.

Those restrictions have prompted the Exiles to start talks with neighbours Brentford Football Club over a possible ground-share.

"They've got a very nice facility," added Thomas. "A 12,500 capacity stadium, 7,000 of which are seated so it's an ideal venue for us."


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