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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 13:03 GMT
Scarlets 'saved' by new investor
Llanelli Scarlets chief executive Stuart Gallacher
The Scarlets have warned they could go bust by Christmas
Llanelli Scarlets say they have secured a new financial backer to safeguard the region's short-term future.

Just hours after receiving a rescue offer from the Welsh Rugby Union, the Scarlets announced they have struck a deal with businessman Tim Griffiths.

The Scarlets say the new funding will ensure they will be able to operate until the early part of next year.

The region had been seeking extra funding to cover the cost of the delay in moving to a new stadium.

The Scarlets want to build 450 houses on their Stradey Park ground, as part of plans for a new 15,000-seater stadium at Pemberton.

But the Stradey application was called in by the Welsh Assembly Government in July, just before it was due to go before Carmarthenshire County Council's planning committee.

We are pleased to have someone with such a strong commercial background and global contacts

Scarlets chief executive Stauart Gallacher

Scarlets chairman and benefactor Huw Evans has said the delay will cost them 2m, and warned they would collapse by Christmas.

The region rejected a loan offer from local businessman Clive Hughes in October, claiming the terms were "undeliverable".

And days later, the WRU turned down the Scarlets' request for a 2m loan on "financial and legal" reasons, but stressed it was sympathetic to the region's plight.

On Monday, the WRU announced it had made an alternative offer to buy Stradey Park and so give the Scarlets "the funding to continue to operate at the top level".

But the Scarlets then revealed they had already secured new investment from London-based businessman Griffiths.

Scarlets chief executive Stuart Gallacher has not revealed how much money Griffiths has invested, but said there was no security attached to the investment.

"This is really good news for our region and we are very pleased to have reached agreement with Tim," said Gallacher.

"It will provide us with immediate financial resources to help see the Scarlets through until the early part of next year and with it the opportunity to get a positive decision on our new stadium.

It is quite clear to me that without the new stadium the Scarlets' will cease to exist

Scarlets benefactor Tim Griffiths

"We will still be seeking further funding for the Scarlets including studying the detail of today's WRU proposal which we have only just received.

"However we are pleased to have someone with such a strong commercial background and global contacts backing our business plans to move forward."

Griffiths, who was brought up in west Wales, will be given a place on the Scarlets board as a result of his "substantial financial investment".

He is chief executive of Williams Lea, a 450m turnover global company which supplies information management and business process services, and said that losing the Scarlets would be "devastating blow".

"It is quite clear to me that without the new stadium the Scarlets' will cease to exist which would be a tragedy for the area and for Welsh rugby," added Griffiths.

The Welsh Assembly is unlikely to reach a verdict until May on the housing plan for Stradey Park.

Local residents argue the plans contravene planning regulations as the majority of the area is listed as a flood plain by the Environment Agency.

But Griffiths says he is confident the housing plan and accompanying new stadium project will be given the go-ahead.

"I have carefully and independently verified the business plan for the new stadium.

"Although this is a different type of investment for me, I don't go into things blindly and my advisers have thoroughly evaluated the Scarlets' future plans both off and on the field."

SEE ALSO
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