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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Warriors carve-up begins
Warriors and Wales centre Sonny Parker will be in demand
Celtic Warriors players have met the Welsh Rugby Union to discover where they will be playing next season.

Some 20 players of the 34-man squad were called one-by-one to learn their fate, having heard this week that the WRU plan to disband the regional side.

The distribution will probably be based on a draft system, players agent Adam Palfrey told BBC Wales.

Cardiff Blues are thought likely to get first pick as the least successful side last season.

But Palfrey said he has already been contacted by interested French and English clubs.

The Ospreys have also offered their assistance and "will move heaven and earth to bring in as much of the Warriors' region within the Ospreys set-up".

Ospreys chief executive Andrew Donald added: "Everyone at the Ospreys is extremely saddened by what has happened at the Warriors today and our thoughts are with those players, staff and families affected.

The WRU maintain the future of the Warriors is still "under review", but the end of the region looks to be a done deal.

Warriors chief executive Leighton Samuel says the Welsh Rugby Union has "reneged" on promises made over the future of the region before he agreed to sell them his 50% share in the side.

"It was agreed that the players' contracts would continue to be honoured, that the team would continue to play next season and that the Celtic Warriors would be in the Heineken Cup," Samuel told BBC Wales from Menorca, where he is on business.

Celtic Warriors chief executive Leighton Samuel
I felt I started to lose control when the Union started to flex its muscles
Leighton Samuel
"I was absolutely gob-smacked when I heard the news. The Union has made it look as if I've sold the Warriors down the river, but the players know I have not done that, they could never believe that."

Samuel believes that the move to get rid of the Warriors was pre-meditated, with the WRU always saying that they wanted four rather than five regional sides.

"As soon as I gave the WRU Pontypridd's share (in the Warriors) I believed something big would happen and that it was the beginning of the end," he said.

"I felt I started to lose control then and that the Union had started to flex its muscles."

Samuel and his fellow directors John Samuel and Derrick King say their position became untenable after the Union demanded board meetings on every subject, from ordering stationery to signing new players.

It has been reported that Samuel stands to gain 1.2m for his share, with the other regions in Wales contributing some of that cash to buy him out.

But Samuel said: "I have only heard about those figures in the press and on the radio and television. I am not expecting much more that 100,000."

Newport celebrate the Welsh Premier title
Newport could be entered into next year's Parker Pen Cup
The Warriors were the least-supported region in Wales last season, averaging less than 3,000 supporters per game in the Celtic League, compared to 6,000 per game for the best supported side, the Scarlets.

Meanwhile, European officials say they still want a Welsh side in the second-tier Parker Pen Cup next year, though they will not comment on the current situation.

It has been speculated that Wales' four Welsh regions could enter the Heineken Cup, with Welsh Premier champions Newport in the Parker Pen.

Another alternative would be an amalgamated side from the whole Welsh Premier being entered into the second-string tournament.




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