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WRU pledge to examine debenture issue after legal threat.

Byline: Martin Shipton Chief Reporter martin.shipton@walesonline.co.uk

THE Welsh Rugby Union may face legal action after stating that around 9,000 debenture holders at the Millennium Stadium will not be granted preferential rights to buy tickets for Rugby World Cup matches held in Cardiff next year.

Although the World Cup is being hosted by England, five pool matches and two quarter-finals will be played at the Millennium Stadium. For many years, in common with other national rugby bodies like the Rugby Football Union in England, the WRU has raised cash by selling debentures to individuals, rugby clubs and companies.

In return for an interestfree loan, the WRU has granted debenture holders the right to buy tickets for matches played in the national stadium over a specified period.

In the case of around 9,000 50-year debentures issued in 1969, 1976 and 1983, the contracts issued state: "This debenture will entitle the registered holder to the right to one ticket on payment... at the National Ground, Cardiff Arms Park, on the occasion of each rugby international match held there."

Cardiff solicitor Russell Jenkins said the right to buy tickets for matches in the old stadium transferred to the Millennium Stadium when it opened in 1999.

A trustee of the Cardiff Harlequins rugby club, he said: "I have written to Roger Lewis after seeing an email sent by the WRU's compliance and debenture co-ordinator Ross Salmon to my fellow trustee, Richard Pexton.

Richard had written to Ross Salmon saying that one of the club's debenture holders is also a debenture holder at Twickenham.

"The RFU has told him that it will honour his debentures for Rugby World Cup matches in 2015. He asked whether the same would apply at the Millennium Stadium, but received the response: 'These games will be under the control of RWC Ltd and the RFU. Even the games in Cardiff. So the answer is no'.

"This is completely wrong and contradicts the specific rights of debenture holders whose debentures were issued in 1969, 1976 and 1983.

"Debentures issued later specify Six Nations matches, and holders don't have a right to buy tickets for World Cup matches.

"I have told [WRU group chief executive] Roger Lewis that the rights of debenture holders must be upheld. At Cardiff Harlequins we have a legal duty to provide around 30 sub-debenture holders with the right to buy tickets.

They could sue us if we are unable to supply the tickets, and then we would have no alternative but to join the WRU in the action."

A spokesman for the WRU said: "The WRU takes the requests of its debenture holders extremely seriously and is currently exploring the issue with England Rugby 2015 and Rugby World Cup Ltd, in terms of access to tickets on behalf of debenture holders.

"We will be sending a detailed response to Russell Jenkins to this effect, which explains the position with regards to debenture holder access to non-WRU events, but we also remain grateful for his communication which will help us to focus attention on this important issue."

"This is completely wrong and contradicts the specific rights of debenture holders" Cardiff solicitor Russell Jenkins

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Rugby supporters enjoy the atmosphere at the opening ceremony of the 1999 Rugby World Cup held in Cardiff
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 4, 2014
Words:550
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