The BBC report is important because its findings, carefully researched and fact-checked, bear out what critics of the council's deals with the club have been saying for years, only to be dismissed by senior figures in the council as the imaginings of a hardcore of malcontents.
The first part of the BBC story deals with the likelihood that the council has broken EU rules on state aid with the millions its has poured into the Parc y Scarlets venture. A formal complaint has now been made to the EU Commission which has said it will investigate.
The Commission has also confirmed that the council has never provided it with information on the various transactions.
For its part, the council is adamant that the legal advice it took back in 2007 concluded that the rules on state aid did not apply to the Parc y Scarlets scheme, although it has consistently refused to disclose what that legal advice was, and it has also refused to comment on whether it has sought legal advice on the matter since 2007.
In the worst case scenario, the Commission could force the council to demand repayment of the millions its has provided to the club. The problem with that is the club is nowhere near able to repay, and it is currently only able to stay afloat thanks to annual cash injections and debt write-offs.
The Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, Mark James, arrived in Carmarthenshire in 2001 fresh from the Princess Royal Sports Arena in Boston. "It won't cost the taxpayer a penny", councillors were told there. The project was subsequently the subject of a damning report by the English Audit Commission, but by then Mr James was long gone and had started the ball rolling on Parc y Scarlets.
It seems that Boston Borough Council has so far had to pay out £6.2 million, and the bills are still coming in. Compared with Carmarthenshire, however, Boston has got off lightly.
Of course, it takes more than one to tango, and it would be wrong to apportion all the blame to Mr James. Senior councillors in Carmarthenshire, several of whom still run the council, as well as senior figures in the Scarlets boardroom all played their part.
Back in 2004 the Parc y Scarlets deal was being finalised. "It won't cost the club a penny", they were told. Months later when more detailed costings had been worked out, the bill to the club was £6.2 million. Eventually the club contributed over £7 million, with the council funding the balance of £18.3 million.
Prior to that the club had owned its old home in Stradey Park. The club's nightmare was only just beginning.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there was no shortage of warnings back in the period between 2004 and 2007. The council commissioned a report from Deloittes which listed all of the risks involved. The siren voices were all ignored.
What has happened since then is a spiral of increasingly bizarre deals and implausible claims, some of which have bordered on being pure fiction. Here is just a small sample:
- The land on which the stadium was built had no value.
- The land recently sold to Marstons was of no use.
- The recent debt restructuring was "a better return than any other commercial investment" (Council press release)
- The debt restructuring meant that the council was better off (after interest on a loan to the club was cut from 7% to 4%). The BBC report reckons that this has cost the council around £800,000.
- "We have not given the club any money" (Western Mail article today), referring to the Marstons deal in which the club received around £600,000 of the £850,000 of the council-owned land.
- Henry Davidson, the developers of the Eastgate complex in Llanelli, had concerns over the plans to build a pub next to Parc y Scarlets, we have been told, and so persuaded the club to open a bar in Eastgate, even though the club had no money to pay for it.
- It was the Scarlets who "found" Marstons and so reaped a £30,000 finder's fee.
- The Scarlets are contributing around £16 million to the local economy each year, according to a report commissioned by the council and the club. To put that into perspective, the Welsh Government recently estimated that the new national coastal path had attracted around 1.6 million visitors and contributed £16 million to the national economy in its first year.
Whatever happens, and long after some of the current movers and shakers have moved on, the council and the sport will be left picking up the pieces for years and probably decades to come.
There is still a cross party consensus in favour of the Scarlets, but the shabby deals and ludicrous claims made by the council mean that the public's patience is starting to wear thin.
The best thing that could happen to the club would be for the people who backed the Parc y Scarlets scheme to accept responsibility and step down, with an open and honest cross party initiative to work out a bold new solution to safeguard the club's future, while removing the council from further involvement, even if that means further write-offs and losses.
Cllr Jeff Edmunds' recent decision to break ranks and disclose details of the Marstons deal is certainly a step in the right direction.