THE deal for the Dragons to return to private ownership is still on despite the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis but it won't be completed this summer as planned.

Chairman David Buttress is leading a consortium to take control of the Rodney Parade region back from the Welsh Rugby Union.

The plan was for the Dragons to be in private hands by July with the former Just Eat chief executive stating that "the probability of the deal being done is very, very, very high".

Both Buttress and the WRU remain keen on the transaction but the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works.

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"I would have liked to have completed everything ready for next season but that's not going to happen," admitted the chairman.

"I've had a chat with the Union and they still want to sell while our intent hasn't changed, we want to take the Dragons private, but as private investors we need to know how the world is looking.

"That could be three months, it could be six months, it could be a year. It's all going to take a little bit longer.

"We are going to kick the can down the road, probably until the end of the year when things have hopefully settled down.

"Rugby is closed for business at the moment and taking over you'd know what the costs are but wouldn't know about income.

"The deal will be delayed, but not by too much I hope. It's just pretty frustrating because I felt that we were starting to build some real momentum under Dean (Ryan, director of rugby).

"However, there are so many more important things than rugby at the moment."

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The region was taken over by the Welsh Rugby Union in May 2017 in an agreement that saw the governing body buy Rodney Parade from Newport RFC.

The deal with the consortium would see the Dragons return to private ownership after signing a long-term lease, in excess of 100 years, for the use of the historic ground.

The north end of Rodney Parade would be retained and developed by the Union, who have more financial clout but would also the risks associated with property development.

Funds generated by that part of the nine-acre site would be distributed between all professional sides and revenue from the stadium area would be kept by the Dragons.

The deal for the Dragons would see Buttress take the biggest financial risk but the entrepreneur from Cwmbran would not fling money at the region.

"I've done well but I'm not Warren Buffett!" he said at a Q&A with supporters in February. "I actually don't think it's right to just drop money in and think that acts as a solution, it doesn't really work anyway.

"We are better off investing in the academy, bringing the likes of Taine Basham through, Rio Dyer through, Ollie Griffiths through, Elliot Dee through.

"There is a rich seam of talent here that we need to nurture and retain. That will be our model."