Nevertheless, I, like the majority of members, thought it was a great opportunity to put Richmond back in the forefront of the game.
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When the Dallaglio deal fell through, my priority was a powerful ball carrier and the name of Scott Quinnell cropped up.
Coincidentally, I got a call saying Scott might be interested in leaving Wigan. For a transfer fee of pounds 250,000 Scott signed a five-year contract. I was never given a budget but when St Helens asked pounds 250,000 for Scott Gibbs, I thought it was too much.
I was told my budget for players salaries that year was pounds 800,000 and I had exceeded it. The deal with Ben, who was on pounds 200,000 a year, had always been a private affair and outside my budget. At least the signing of Brian Moore, who had left Harlequins, cost me next to nothing in terms of money.
It did, however, cost me the friendship of Tony Rodgers, my coach at Cambridge. He was a useful hooker but didn't really fit in and Tony and I have not spoken a word since Stefan's departure.
Meanwhile Vinny, despite securing an excellent sponsorship deal with Oracle, agreed to leave at the end of the first year when it became clear that his relationship with Symon was becoming increasingly fraught.
To my mind this was a big loss and a setback for the old guard.I said there were obvious handicaps, having to ground-share with London Scottish and that any attempt to develop the Athletic Ground would be resisted.Ashley said he was not going into the game to make a quick buck and that his plans for generating income ranged from theme bars in Richmond and central London to having our own merchandising company.With Ben Clarke locked in, recruitment was made easier.My first signings were the Welsh half-backs Adrian Davies and Andy Moore, from Cardiff.The room was so large it would have covered the entire ground floor area of my house.