Blues warning over player wages
February 18, 2012
Wales' success on the pitch has not led to an increase in fans for the Regions © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas says the Welsh Regions will no longer pay their top players when they are on international duty.
The Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons have announced a £3.5m salary cap for next season and Thomas now says falling revenues mean Wales and other Test teams need to pay the players' wages when they are with them.
"If you're working for another company [playing for another team]... then they pay you," Thomas told the BBC. "Be it the Lions, or be it the World Cup, or be it the Welsh Rugby Union, or be it the sevens, or be it the Barbarians."
Wales' top players are currently paid a regular wage by their Region as well as having a contract with the Welsh Rugby Union for representative rugby. The WRU invests £6m a year into the Regions with the rest of their budget self-funded.
Despite Wales' success on the international stage, attendances have fallen for the Welsh Regions. The Blues recently decided to return to the Arms Park for some games after failing to fill the Cardiff City Stadium, although they will continue to play Welsh derby matches at the bigger stadium.
"It [rugby] is our national sport, but sadly it doesn't reflect in regional rugby and that's backed up by the fact that we're not getting the crowds that we used to have, and desperately need," Thomas added.
"It is a great worry but the regions have had to introduce a salary cap. It's very concerning to us all that international players with so many other commitments to the national team, which is vitally important, that in addition to that every year there is either a Welsh tour, there are Lions tours, there are Rugby World Cups.
"If you look at a national squad player, he is available to his region for only 20 weeks a year. In any business you cannot afford to pay someone with the crowds that we're getting, or the lack of them, and the way the game is going it cannot be sustained any longer by private equity.
"However, in future it's going to be retrospective. What I mean by that is if you come and turn up for work at the Blues you get paid. There are individuals throughout Wales who have propped this game up now for 15 years and it's not fair to the employees of the businesses.
"And that's why we've introduced the cap and that's why now we've got to look at various alternatives. It's unsustainable as it is, we're looking at various modules, we're working very closely with the Welsh Rugby Union.
"[Accountancy firm] PriceWaterhouseCoopers are now doing a report on the position and that will actually give us an indication of where we all stand, and I believe it's due to be published sometime at the end of March."
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