'Project Reset has become Project Inept': Ospreys chairman resigns over proposed Scarlets merger

'Project Reset has become Project Inept': Ospreys chairman resigns over proposed Scarlets merger

The Ospreys chairman Mike Jones has resigned over the “catastrophic mismanagement” of plans to overhaul Wales' rugby regions.

The Ospreys and Scarlets could merge under radical proposals being discussed by the Welsh Rugby Union [WRU] - a scenario which, it's understood, could even unfold in time for next season.

Press Association reports the favoured plan is to retain four regional teams, but they would comprise north Wales, an Ospreys-Scarlets merger, Cardiff Blues and Dragons.

At the start of today's meeting of Wales' Professional Game Board [PGB] in Cardiff, Jones announced his resignation to the management group behind the proposals.

“None of us doubt that regional rugby requires restructuring in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the game,” said Jones in a statement.

“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 today I’ve make the decision to stand down as both chairman and a director of the Ospreys, surrendering my position on the PRB.”

Jones will be succeeded as chairman by fellow Ospreys benefactor Rob Davies.

An Ospreys statement said it understood that Davies will oversee "a legal and financial forensic review" of the WRU’s actions in administrating Project Reset.

It will investigate "the independence of the WRU’s role given its conflict of interests, the lack of appropriate transparency and adequate governance in the Project Reset process, as well as inducements by officers of the WRU for the regional side to commit further private funds to the game whilst acting against its interests".

So-called Project Reset is being played out against a backdrop of Wales chasing this season's Guinness Six Nations title and a possible Grand Slam.

13 of Wales' matchday 23 for the Scotland clash comprise Ospreys and Scarlets players, including nine of the starting team.

If a merger goes ahead, players like Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies, George North, Owens, and Leigh Halfpenny will be part of the same regional squad.

The Scarlets currently play at Parc-y-Scarlets in Llanelli, while the Ospreys use Swansea's Liberty Stadium for their home games.

Any merger would need to establish a home ground, in addition to issues such as the new team's name and kit.

The WRU has not commented on Tuesday's planned discussions.

- Additional reporting by PA

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