A possible merger between the Welsh clubs Scarlets and Ospreys has been called off.
Wales rugby bosses were reportedly set to hold talks on Tuesday about the possibility of a merger, but both the Scarlets and Ospreys have since stated that such a move will not take place.
‘In late December, the Scarlets received a high-level approach from the Ospreys to explore the option of a merger, as they had come to the conclusion that their position as tenants at the Liberty Stadium was proving to be challenging,’ a statement from the Scarlets read.
This was discussed at the two-day strategy meeting of the Professional Rugby Board [PRB] on 8 and 9 January. The loss of a region would have put Welsh rugby in breach of its commitment to having four regions playing in the major competitions. As a result, the option of a team playing out of North Wales was raised.
‘By the time of the next PRB meeting on 5 February, discussions had broken down between the Scarlets and Ospreys, and we were told that the Ospreys and another region were in talks over a possible merger, again with North Wales being the option to maintain four teams.
‘Subsequently those discussions also broke down and we were approached again last week by the Ospreys to reconsider a merger. Heads of terms were agreed and signed by the Ospreys and Scarlets on 1 March on terms we believe our supporters would be happy with.
‘This was to be proposed at a meeting of the PRB on Tuesday afternoon, but we were told at the start of that meeting that the Ospreys had changed their mind. The merger is off the table.’
In a statement of its own, Ospreys hit out at the manner in which the process had been handled.
‘The instability created by PRB’s chaotic approach to its own imposed restructuring criteria has been the height of recklessness at its worst and incompetent management at its best, an approach which has resulted in wild conjecture, hostility and uncertainty in the regional game.
‘Welsh rugby and the supporters of Welsh rugby deserve better. And the players, families, suppliers, commercial partners and those whose livelihoods depend on the regional game, certainly deserve better.
‘We stand fully behind the comments of Ospreys outgoing chairman Mike James, and add the Ospreys’ voice to his in calling for fundamental re-examination of a truly disastrous process. We also stand behind the comments and concerns of the WRPA concerning the woeful lack of consultation to date.
‘The Ospreys are not on the verge of merging with the Scarlets.’