Gareth Davies urges Welsh clubs to stop paying players

Gareth Davies

WRU Chairman Gareth Davies has urged Welsh clubs below the semi-professional Indigo Group Premiership to cut player payments amid the financial difficulties brought during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Chairman’s message

In a message to the club community Gareth Davies stated;

“As we often state, the community game is the lifeblood of our sport, club players are also supporters, coaches, administrators and referees and alongside their families and social networks they form the very DNA of Welsh rugby, but there is one persistent factor at this level of the game that I simply cannot fathom – payment.

“There is no one scouting the golf courses looking to tempt me with lucrative offers after a decent round and neither would I, nor anyone else for that matter, expect there to be.  So why do clubs, who exist for rugby and rugby alone so unnecessarily drain the very resources which could ensure long term sustainability by insisting on paying players?”

Clubs can pay players below the Premiership, but have to declare doing so and as a result lose their core grant which falls around £4,000 (£9,000 for Championship clubs). Any side with an A license below the Premiership is also exempt, but this won’t be a loophole to spend wages as it costs around £100,000 to apply. Neath, Bargoed, Pontypool, Cross Keys and Bedwas all hold the A license in the National Championship.

Six clubs have elected to pay and disclose that information via the signing of the ‘Statement of Truth’. Those clubs are Blackwood, Brecon, Glamorgan Wanderers, Narbeth, Tata Steel and Newbridge.

It does however, remain an open secret that more clubs pay, but do not disclose their payments in order to retain their core grant.

“They are the amateur clubs who have players on contracts and with wage bills to sustain.  In the professional game there have been negotiations and pay-cuts across the board, but in the amateur game this should not have been an issue,” added Davies.

Clubs are already suffering under the loss of gate receipts left behind with the season cancelled over Covid-19 fears.

Having spoken to some clubs earlier this season surrounding their call for an EGM over an audit system which oversees how clubs get their funding, Last Word understands that some clubs were in fear that without a change in audit they would go out of business. This was without the loss of home games and other financial restraints caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Premiership is looking at a salary cap to reduce its own expenditure, which sees some clubs spending well into six figures to keep their club going. That won’t be in effect until at least 2021-22 season according to one source.

‘Brown envelope’ payments have been an issue in the game for many years and the WRU holds itself that any club found to have paid without declaration will see grants taken away and points deducted.

Clubs seek help

Over 130 clubs have filled in a Club Impact Survey, which was sent out to clubs to understand which clubs and where needs aid and advice.

It’s been a tough season for clubs, starting with the Storm Dennis floods that wrecked over 10 clubs and caused thousands of pounds in damage, then 34 clubs called for an EGM and now the season has been cancelled, seeing all home gates lost, bar takings gone and many clubs unable to take any merchandise sales.


“Main photo credit”

CARDIFF, WALES – NOVEMBER 06: Gareth Davies of Wales Rugby Union addresses the audience during the European Rugby Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup 2019/2020 season launch for Gallagher Premiership and Pro14 clubs on November 6, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)