KEO News Wire

Project Reset has become Project Inept – Ospreys chairman resigns over merger proposals

The Ospreys chairman Mike James has resigned over what he described as “catastrophic” proposals for a merger between the regional side and Pro14 rivals the Scarlets.

The newly-formed Professional Rugby Board (PRB) are to discuss plans for a radical change to regional rugby in Wales, which could see the introduction of a club in the north of the country and one fewer team in the south.

Discussions between the PRB and the Welsh Rugby Union have been labelled “Project Reset”, but in a hard-hitting resignation statement James, who will be succeeded by fellow Ospreys benefactor Rob Davies, mocked that moniker.

“None of us doubt that regional rugby requires restructuring in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the game,” he said. “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. 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 I’ve made the decision to stand down as both chairman and a director of the Ospreys, surrendering my position on the PRB.

“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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