The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have completed agreements with the four regions to lend them a £20million NatWest Cymru loan from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) – Cardiff Blues are set to receive £5m, the Dragons £4.5m, the Ospreys £5m and the Scarlets £5.5m.

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WRU’s appointed banker granted final approval for CLBILS funding earlier in October and the agreements with the regions now means this money can now be lent onwards. 

The money was sourced by the WRU with the aim of sustaining Wales’ four regional sides for the 2020/21 season because of the negative impact the ongoing pandemic has had on the ability of each business to generate revenue in the usual way. 

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The allocation of the CLBILS funds was determined by each region, working together in the PRB and agreed collectively, what they each needed to bridge the challenges of this current season.

The £20m loan agreement is between the WRU and NatWest Cymru, with the money onward lent to each individual region with the terms of the agreements between the WRU and the regions reflecting the terms of the original loan. 

“We are extremely grateful to NatWest Cymru for supporting professional rugby in Wales with this hugely significant contribution to our sustainability for the year ahead,” said PRB chair Amanda Blanc. “PRB members have engaged in open discussions about the allocation of funds according to the individual and different needs of each entity. 

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“This is precisely what the PRB is here to do, to manage, facilitate and enable professional rugby in Wales and to sustain all five professional entities in accordance to the needs of each at a given time. For a region to accept and vote through a decision which gives themselves less funding than a neighbour, but for justifiable and entirely explicable reasons, shows the PRB working at its finest.” 

NatWest Cymru was officially appointed as banker to the WRU in March 2019, in a deal which provided an approximate £40m funding package at the time, including revolving credit facilities to support earnings enhancing capital expenditure and ongoing working capital needs.

“We have been engaged in healthy discussions with NatWest Cymru and ended up with a sensible solution which we are all very pleased about and very grateful to NatWest Cymru for,” said WRU CEO Steve Phillips, who went on to explain why Scarlets received the biggest loan. “It has been the PRB’s role to establish a consensus amongst our regional sides concerning the allocation of the money.

“The easiest thing to do would have been to split £20m four ways, but it is to everyone’s credit that we have come up with a much more appropriate solution than that. The four regions are all at different stages and their needs differ accordingly.

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“So, the PRB has done what it is set up to do and brokered a solution that suits all four entities. We have ended up with fair and sensible allocation rather than equal for the sake of being able to say ‘equal’ and it is a solution for which all parties should be commended.”

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