CHAIRMAN David Buttress says the Dragons' primary focus is securing a return to private ownership before they push on with development plans for Rodney Parade, and has warned they "can't waste any more time".

Since taking the helm, Buttress has made no secret of the region's need to build on the north end of the nine-acre site in order to generate funds for the rugby budget.

The desire remains to build a hotel on the land, which was bought by the Welsh Rugby Union as part of their takeover in May, 2017.

The governing body paid £2.85million for Rodney Parade, wiped off an existing £900,000 loan and gave previous owners Newport RFC a cash sum of £600,000.

The Dragons are keen to press on with developing the site – but not before sorting out their ownership structure.

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"We are having meetings with key stakeholders in the city and the WRU," said Buttress. "We are having meetings privately with some developers about what is possible, what sort of investment levels it would require and what returns we could expect.

"I wouldn't quite says things are moving along as a parallel track to the ownership discussion of the Dragons, but it's moving along in the background.

"The primary focus is on whether we can take the Dragons into some sort of private ownership structure.

"All deals like this are complicated, it's a multi-million pound discussion, not just around rugby but a site right in the city centre.

"There is some complexity and I know that people want things to move and to know what's happening, but things are happening quietly in the background and we are trying to make it happen."

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Buttress told the Argus in March that moving back to private ownership would be in the best interests of the Union, the Dragons and their three professional rivals to the west.

"The way that we would want it to work is that we would invest money into the Dragons and into Rodney Parade in order to take control and ownership of it from the WRU," he said.

"We would invest additional money in – because what this club needs is further investment and not a buyer and a seller, where a seller is taking money out and a buyer is paying off a seller.

"It needs money invested that stays in the club and for the previous owner to get their return by the further investment. That's probably the best structure, with a Dragons hat on."

The ownership negotiations will hinge on how much the Dragons are prepared to pay in order to regain full control, and how much the WRU are prepared to bend.

"There are three mechanisms. The first is to buy the site, the second is to lease it long-term, the third is for the Union to retain control and do the development," said Buttress.

"I am trying to be pragmatic about each one, I have a preference but I'd be happy as long as we do one.

"I would not be happy at doing nothing, that is unpalatable and would really, really hold us back for another year, and we cannot afford that.

"We can't waste any more time, we need to develop the site and I am almost at the point where I don't mind what way we do it, let's just do one of the options!"

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Buttress was appointed as chairman in September, 2017 after taking a minority stake in the Dragons and the former Just Eat chief executive has been busy ever since.

A busy 2018/19 led to plenty of hours devoted to Project Reset as part of the Professional Rugby Board, the dismissal of head coach Bernard Jackman, the process of replacing him with director of rugby Dean Ryan and the departure of managing director Mike Davies.

“I don’t mind spending time at the Dragons but I could probably do with fewer meetings in Cardiff! I don’t mind them as long as we are making progress and are building stuff, but bluntly it doesn’t always feel that we are,” said Buttress.

“But I love every minute of it and would be here more often than I can be; my wife has said she has never seen me more happy than when I am coming to Rodney Parade and the Dragons, that in all the JustEat years she never saw me as happy as this.

“The thing that I would like to see now is to progress more quickly off the field, which is the area that I am specifically responsible for.

“The time to develop Rodney Parade is now and we have to crack on with that, the time to sort out the ownership of the Dragons is now and not in a year.

“We need to decide in the next few months if we are staying under WRU control, in which case fine, let’s make that happen the best that we can, or if it’s going into private hands, in which case great, let’s get on with running it. We’ve got to make two big decisions.”