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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 16:55 UK

Ospreys not sustainable plea made

Ospreys boss Mike Cuddy on crowds

The Ospreys board of directors say the region's rugby is not a viable proposition with current fan levels.

"Our numbers remain lower than where they need to be to ensure long-term sustainability," the directors said in Sunday's match programme.

"The stark reality is, if fans don't start to get behind the four regions Welsh rugby's future looks bleak."

The Ospreys' best crowd this season was 8,500 for the Tuesday night Magners League derby with Cardiff Blues.

Just 8,000 were in the 20,000-capacity Liberty Stadium for the start of the region's EDF Energy Cup defence against Harlequins on Sunday, with 7,200 for last month's league visit of Ulster on a Saturday evening.

"Crowd levels are considerably down on the figures from last year and this is giving the Ospreys cause for concern," the two-page article said in the match programme.

"The desire from within the Ospreys is to compete with the best sides in England and France, and the stark reality is that we can only do that if we are getting the numbers through the turnstiles."

Season tickets: 200-325
Match tickets: 20-25
The Ospreys have been the most successful of Wales' sides since the inception of regional rugby in 2003, winning two Magners League titles and the EDF Cup last year.

They have also been generally regarded as the side who have done most to embrace the regional concept and have adopted a forward-thinking marketing policy.

This season they have made a number of pleas for greater support, launching a match-day bus service to bring in fans from across the so-called Ospreylia region.

Season tickets cost between 200 and 325 (before concessions and offers), with full-price match tickets ranging from 20-25.

The region will hope to see crowd levels rise in the forthcoming Heineken Cup, the premier competition of the season.

A limited-number special offer has been launched whereby fans in the south stand can pay 10 and gain entry to two Heineken home matches, against Benetton Treviso and Perpignan.

Every time you turn the television on there's the dreaded credit crunch

Ospreys boss Mike Cuddy
But Cuddy wonders whether wider financial factors beyond his control may be hitting attendances.

"You can put it down to a number of things really, every time you turn the television on there's the dreaded credit crunch," managing director Mike Cuddy told BBC Wales' Scrum V rugby show during the Harlequins game.

"Sunday afternoon games are not something we're used to in Wales, we've had a Tuesday night game, a Friday night game, a Saturday and a Sunday.

"It's not so much a warning to fans, we just want as many as possible for every game."

If the problem is seen as part of a wider malaise, it may also have spread to Wrexham Football Club.

The Blue Square Premier side have cut prices for Dean Saunders' first home game in charge against York on Tuesday.

Seeking to boost the atmosphere at the Racecourse, adults will be allowed in for 10, OAPs and those aged 16-21 for 5, and those under 16 for free.

see also
Leicester v Ospreys (Sun)
06 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Record Heineken Cup ticket sales
06 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Ospreys 24-23 Harlequins
05 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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