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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 1 April, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Welsh rugby reaches accord
Wales' Premier rugby clubs and the Welsh Rugby Union have reached an agreement over funding for the five-team regional plan for next season.

WRU chief David Moffett met the clubs on Tuesday morning in a last effort to agree a way forward for Welsh rugby, and after two hours of talks a compromise had been forged.

Wales' representatives can now present a plan agreed by clubs and union to the board of European Rugby Cup in Dublin on Wednesday, making the deadline to declare European involvement.

"People came in a very positive state of mind today, we were in unanimous agreement and we're very happy," Premier clubs chairman Derrick King said.

Despite having agreed on a five-team regional structure for next season, the two sides had been unable to agree an acceptable level of funding.

They were separated by 500,000, with the clubs wanting at least 8 million and the WRU only prepared to offer a pot of 7.5m to be shared between the five entities.

Details of the financial agreement are still awaiting release.

The only other alternative would have been a mutually ruinous status quo that would have been disastrous for rugby in Wales.

It's vital players know as quickly as possible whether they're involved or not
Premier clubs chairman Derrick King

"There's never enough money as far as regional teams go, because we don't know what it's going to cost us," King added.

"We've got our own ideas and we know we'll have to find further funding."

Cash-strapped Swansea have already gone into temporary administration this season, and other clubs would surely have followed if there was no move towards regional rugby.

Moffett had said that if the domestic top-flight remained at nine clubs next season, then there would only have been a reduced pot of 4.62m to share around.

Should that have happened there were threats that international players could have been dragged into the row, with some clubs discussing withdrawing them from Wales' summer tour to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Now the players must wait for the teams' personnel to be decided, with some inevitably facing a future without a contract in the new set-up.

That pressure tends to concentrate the mind
David Moffett
"The most important people are the players now and they must be told exactly what's happening," King said.

"The next step now is to get everything into place over the next couple of weeks - the coaches, the squads etc - because it's vital players know as quickly as possible whether they're involved or not."

David Moffett commented: "We reached a compromise because everyone agreed we're on the edge, that pressure tends to concentrate the mind.

"There are lots of things to sort out. We have to dot the is and cross the ts, so I am not going to put a time frame in place."

Moffett expressed his confidence that ERC would ratify Wales' plans at their meeting in Dublin.

Premier clubs chairman Derrick King
"We can now settle down"

WRU chief David Moffett
"There's a lot of work to do"

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