Ospreys long-standing benefactor Mike James has resigned as chairman of the regional side, citing the WRU’s “catastrophic mismanagement” of efforts to overhaul the game.
James made the announcement at the start of Tuesday’s Professional Rugby Board meeting in Cardiff, addressing the management group whose WRU-led restructuring plans have resulted in conjecture over the future of the regions, including the Ospreys.
Speaking after his resignation, James said: “None of us doubt that regional rugby requires restructuring in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the game.
“The way in which this has been handled however is nothing short of chaotic, resulting in a fatal combination of uncertainty, conjecture and insecurity now hanging over regional rugby’s future.
“To methodically, rationally and impartially map out the future of regional rugby is one thing, to fatally wound it with an ill-judged, cavalier process is another.
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“We now have the worst of all worlds – a lack of clarity, a lack of transparency and a total inability to plan ahead. We can no longer make sound rugby or business decisions and nor can our players or commercial partners. Project Reset has become Project Inept.
“I cannot and will not be a party to this level of catastrophic mismanagement and today I’ve make the decision to stand down as both chairman and a director of the Ospreys, surrendering my position on the PRB.”
Ospreys Chairman resigns over WRU's "catastrophic mismanagement" of Project Reset.https://t.co/870ySaXLQF
— Ospreys (@ospreys) March 5, 2019
James will be succeeded as chairman by fellow Ospreys benefactor Rob Davies who, like James, has injected millions into the club, helping it become the most successful Welsh side in the regional game.
It’s understood that Davies will start his new role by overseeing a legal and financial forensic review of the WRU’s actions in administrating Project Reset.
Amongst the concerns to be investigated is the independence of the WRU’s role given its conflict of interests, the lack of appropriate transparency and adequate governance in the Project Reset process, as well as inducements by officers of the WRU for the regional side to commit further private funds to the game whilst acting against its interests.
Ken Owens admits he'd rather four regions than "going down to three teams and 40-50 players being put out of work at this stage."https://t.co/ROJ55XnsOR
— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) March 5, 2019
Turning to the continued future of the restructuring of the regional game, James added: “The only responsible way forward is to now accelerate the plans for a holistic and meaningful restructuring of the game, not delay them or force asymmetric outcomes to emerge.
“Certainty has to be restored to the game and quickly. The restructuring process itself has to be revisited, with appropriate checks and balances, independent oversight and transparency.
“We already have so many disadvantages in keeping pace with the professional game, we don’t need more.”
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