Scarlets launch legal action against WRU
March 19, 2003

Llanelli Rugby Club have issued legal proceedings against the Welsh Rugby Union to prevent the governing body from imposing their proposed four-province structure for next season and beyond.

The club took their case to the High Court this morning and a writ was due to be delivered to the WRU later today stating the Union were acting unlawfully in pursuing a four-team structure.

Llanelli chief executive Stuart Gallacher said: ``The WRU knows this proposal is not viable. It admits to blockages with the European Rugby Cup and broadcasters and we, along with other clubs, have made clear our intention to take legal action if they persisted.

``We are not against change but if the Union does not face up to the fact that its option is dead in the water and pursue other options, we will miss the April 2 deadline that ERC has given us to come up with a structure for next season's Heineken Cup. We will be stuck with nine clubs and nobody wants that.

``The four-team regional plan would put Llanelli out of business and we will not allow that to happen. We have a duty, not to mention contractual obligations to our players, staff and suppliers and to our members, shareholders and supporters. Unlike the WRU, we take our legal and moral obligations seriously.''

The 239 member clubs of the WRU voted overwhelmingly for a switch to a provincial style structure at the recent EGM in Port Talbot. However, the resolution put before them on that day did not mention how many new teams would
be set up.

Gallacher added: ``We are not against change, on the contrary, we see change and a reduction in the number of clubs as essential.

``However, we feel that the WRU has gone back on its word. There was no mention of four teams in the resolution put before the EGM, yet within a matter of days they are pursuing an option that would mean four merged teams for next season.''

The long-awaited legal action was triggered by the WRU announcing they were going to tear up their loyalty agreements with the Premier Division clubs.

Club benefactor Huw Evans said: ``Six years ago we were obliged to enter into the agreement with the WRU. We have honoured our part but regrettably, the Union has decided to renege on its part of the bargain. That is unlawful.''

Llanelli is also taking action under European and competition law.

Gallacher added: ``These laws are designed to protect us from abuses and monopoly power and unlawful restraint of trade. There is little doubt that the WRU is acting unlawfully and will be unable to defend its actions.''

The WRU chief executive David Moffett is due to meet with the Premier Division clubs on Friday and is now facing a tight deadline to find another solution to put to the ERC board on April 2.

Gallacher said: ``Something has to be sorted and sorted quickly, but let's have no doubt about it, the four-team proposal is now dead in the water.''

David Moffett, the WRU Group chief executive, said: ``In response to Llanelli Rugby Club's action in seeking a High Court injunction against the planned restructuring of the professional game in Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union has referred the matter to its lawyers.

``The legal process will now take its course and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.''

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