Pontypool's future in doubt
July 19, 2012
Pontypool's current financial troubles are a long way from the days when they provided the front row of the Wales' team © Getty Images
Pontypool, one of Wales' most historic clubs, face the possibility of going out of business after they were presented with a £400,000 bill following a failed High Court bid to be reinstated in the Welsh Premiership.
The five-time Welsh champions have been left staring at liquidation after they failed in an attempt to overturn the Welsh Rugby Union's (WRU) decision to drop them from Wales' top flight as part of a restructuring of the sport in the Principality. Reports claim that the club's directors have been locked in meetings as they seek to find a way to pay a bill that is double the club's annual running costs.
Sir Raymond Jack, the judge who oversaw the case, said that Pontypool should have accepted an offer from the WRU to allow the club to drop the case. They would still have had to accept their relegation from the Premiership but would not have had to pay £250,000 legal bills run up by the union in addition to their own costs.
Former Pontypool and Wales centre Mark Ring was one of those to question the club's decision to take the case to court. "I can't believe that it has reached this point," Ring told The Western Mail. "Everyone knows the dangers of being involved in a court battle and yet they chose to take on the might of the WRU. They now find themselves in the financial doldrums having taken that risk. They must have known, or at least been aware of, the chances they were going to take and if not we have got to question the wisdom of the whole drama.
"People make decisions which they consider to be in the best interest of the club at the time and it is only looking back that we can see the mistakes. It is obviously a very proud club and it felt it had a strong case but that's been disproved now. It would be an absolute disaster if they were to fold.
"You can always see a team like Pontypool fighting back. But to fight back from a £400,000 bill is another (thing). It makes you wonder if they are going to have to go back and play amateur rugby again. They've just got to sit down now and consider their future and have some sort of plan in place to get back to where they were."
In the 1970's the club was famous for its front-row trio of Graham Price, Bobby Windsor and Tony 'Charlie' Faulkner. Price was a prominent supporter of the legal bid and says the club now needs to focus on the future.
"We are dealing with it in a responsible manner and facing up to the fact we will be playing in the Championship next season," Price said. "The club has to carry on as normal. It's business as usual in many ways. We are an honourable club and we will face up to our responsibilities although it's not like we have any assets for liquidators to come in and take should that ever happen. The only way they can really get any money out of us is by allowing us to trade."
In a statement, the WRU said: "In making his decision the Judge recognised that Pontypool had decided to commence high court litigation as the means for resolving its claim. In defending the claim, the WRU has sought to protect its position on costs, with the court holding that the WRU has a duty to protect both itself and Welsh rugby."
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