CHAIRMAN David Buttress is "highly confident" that the Dragons will be privately owned before next season despite his frustration at a deal being delayed.

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 WRU paid £2.85million for the nine-acre site, wiped off an existing £900,000 loan and gave the Black and Ambers a cash sum of £600,000.

Buttress was appointed as chairman the following September after taking a minority stake in the Dragons.

The former Just Eat chief executive quickly stressed the importance of developing the north end of the ground, ideally with a hotel, in order to generate funds for the rugby side of the operation.

Buttress said in May that sorting out the ownership of the Dragons came before plans for Rodney Parade redevelopment and a consortium has been negotiating with the WRU over a deal that includes the famous ground.

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"We've had meetings with the Union and finally we are getting to a place where we have got a basis for an agreement, and a framework of an agreement," said Buttress.

"I am highly confident that it will happen, although everything with the Union takes about 10 times longer than I've experienced with anything in life!

"But it is going to happen – the Union want to sell and we want to take it on. When there is a willing seller and there is a willing buyer the possibility of a transaction is very high, and I'd put it well in the 90 per cent range.

"We had a meeting a London (at the end of last month) and it was very positive, so I think it's going to happen.

"The Union are obviously always distracted by something, whether it's the CVC thing that is currently flying or the regional distribution funding model that we are currently embroiled in.

"But there was a positive meeting – they want to sell and we want to buy. There are some details to iron out about Rodney Parade but other than that I am pretty confident, more than 90 per cent, that the Dragons will be in private ownership by next season.

"The transaction will probably happen before then, but when the keys are going to be handed over will be negotiated."

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The WRU is set to receive around £35million as part of the PRO14 agreeing to a deal to sell a 27 per cent stage to private equity firm CVC, who already have a stake in the English Premiership.

Ospreys chairman Rob Davies last week stated that he believed that would lead to a British and Irish League by 2022.

Meanwhile, the Dragons and Newport RFC are set for meetings this week over the dispute over matchday fees that the Black and Ambers are being asked to pay for fixtures at Rodney Parade.

The Premiership club paid £700 per game last season but are now being asked to stump up £2,500.

The Dragons state that they are just asking Newport to cover the costs and are not making a profit while the Black and Ambers believe the figure includes items that are not in a venue use agreement that was put in place after the sale to the WRU in 2017.