FORMER Dragons boss Bernard Jackman says all the Welsh regions are “on their knees” financially and in desperate need of a long-term plan.

The former Ireland hooker was sacked in December, 18 months into his three-year plan in the Rodney Parade hotseat.

Project Reset, the new agreement for professional rugby in Wales, was under way while Jackman was at the helm and the sage is still dragging on.

Plans for a merger between the Ospreys and Scarlets, with the proposal sandwiching another idea of the Swansea-based team joining forces with Cardiff Blues, were this week killed off.

That leaves the prospect of the same set-up being in place next season rather than the mooted establishment of a team in north Wales, with the uncertainty continuing.

Jackman operated with the smallest budget and a thin squad at the Dragons but says that all teams are struggling to keep up with Europe’s best.

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"For sure there's a funding shortfall, but all the Welsh regions are on their knees. They need more money not less, if they want to compete,” he told the Irish Independent’s Left Wing podcast.

“The chat is that they are going to go with two super-regions, from a PRO14 point of view there is already a debate about the value of Zebre, the Dragons and Southern Kings. Is two development teams in Wales going to make the league better?

“There is an argument for the Irish, Scots, Italians and South Africans to say 'what's going on here?' because we want well-funded, competitive teams who are focused on winning, not just development.”

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Jackman’s forwards coach Ceri Jones has been handed the Dragons job on a caretaker basis and has the responsibility for player retention and recruitment.

It isn’t just players at the Ospreys and Scarlets who have been hit by uncertainty – those that are out of contract at Rodney Parade in the summer have not yet been able to pen fresh deals.

"I just feel really sorry for the people involved, that’s players, fans, coaches. It doesn’t really paint rugby in a good light,” said Jackman to RTE.

“It is very worrying for the players. A lot of players haven’t been able to negotiate contracts because nobody is sure how the Welsh rugby landscape will look next year.

“People see how fickle and poorly funded the game is and how much pressure they are under.

"I would say the Welsh regions needs more money, not less, to be competitive and make the best possible environment for their players. It is worrying.

"Warren Gatland is doing a phenomenal job keeping the national team successful when underneath it there is so little clarity and security. To be honest it’s not just the Ospreys.”

"Project Reset was about making the game sustainable but unfortunately Welsh rugby isn’t placed in isolation,” he continued.

“They are in competition with Irish, Scots, Italians, while English and French clubs can take players too.

"You can’t just say we don’t have the resources and we’re not going to have ambition. Wales has an unbelievably proud rugby history.

“A decision made in haste will have a lasting effect. This has to be a long-term plan."