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SRU opens door to Borders rescue plan

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    SRU opens door to Borders rescue plan



    Protest called off after SRU opens door to Borders rescue plan;Rugby Union
    <DIV =LeadPara>The demonstration in support of the Borders professional rugby team planned for Murrayfield has been called off after organisers claimed they were detecting a thawing in attitude from Scottish Rugby executives, who last week announced the club's closure. Instead, the Borders Rugby Action Group (BRAG), which had organised the demonstration, urged supporters to make their feelings known a week tomorrow at the club's next home game. </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>Despite sounding slightly more optimistic about a rescue, it is unlikely that the union will be represented at tomorrow night's meeting in Edinburgh when the action group and Graham Garvie, the businessman behind it, are due to update clubs and their members on moves to mount a rescue. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The gathering will not, however, be presented with the details of the proposal, as had originally been promised. "We are taking a day or two extra to make sure that we have a fully-funded, fully-costed plan that we can take to Scottish Rugby," Garvie said. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"We have to make sure that everything is just right before taking it to the union. It would only be proper that they should try to take it apart, so it has to be robust. We have only had a short time since the closure announcement, and rather present than them with something that is full of holes, we have to get it right." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>At the same time, he says he is delighted at an apparent change of emphasis by the union, which had presented the closure as a done deal last week but is now saying that it is willing to listen to the rescue plan. The first stage of that will come on Tuesday next week when the union will meet David Kilshaw, the chairman of the Borders, and representatives of the Scottish Borders council, both of whom are involved with the Garvie proposal. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The union also says it is willing to meet Garvie, who was on the board of Edinburgh Rugby when it acquired that club from the union but has since resigned to concentrate on this project, when he gives them a fully-costed and credible business plan. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>One issue for Garvie is that his projections could change today if, as expected, the French clubs confirm that they are pulling out of the Heineken Cup next season, the English clubs follow suit and the competition is then scrapped. It is believed that until now his planning has assumed that the Borders would continue to derive an income from both the Magners League and European competitions. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The decision to abandon the planned protest tomorrow night, which would have coincided with Edinburgh's home game against Newport Gwent Dragons, had been taken early in the day after Andy Irvine, the union president, spoke on radio about "keeping the door open" for the people who were preparing the rescue package. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>From the union's point of view, it is finding it harder to convince people that professional rugby is at the heart of its financial problems. The fact is that in 2001-02, when it was operating two teams, it spent Pounds 10.26 million on professional and international rugby, including wages (Pounds 5.46 million for 66 players) and expenses. By the 2005-06 season, when it was operating three teams, that had hardly grown, and was standing at Pounds 10.95 million (Pounds 5.94 million in wages for 122 players, including apprentices). Paying its professional players has dropped from 59.5 per cent of the union's wage costs in 2002 to 49.3 per cent in the latest accounts available. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>In the meantime, again according to the latest accounts, the number of non players emp
    Seas suas agus troid!
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