I’m pleased to be able to write to you today and appreciate my CEO newsletters have not been as frequent as normal and as I would wish.
This is primarily due to the fact that I was hoping to address supporters at the company’s annual general meeting. If we are unable to schedule the company AGM by the end of this month, we will in any event host an open forum for supporters.
I remain committed to communicating with supporters, and contrary to suggestions online, please rest assured that it is not our strategy to communicate only when necessary. We have in fact prepared an annual communication plan, which is now being implemented, to ensure that we provide more and more information throughout the season.
While I have not been in recent communication with the wider group of supporters, I along with senior management continue to meet Cardiff Blues Supporters Club and CF10 Rugby Trust on a regular basis. We met CBSC last week and are due to hold our monthly meeting with CF10 this week, and I am sure they further update their respective members.
In recent months we have also been busy planning and implementing the new three-year plan for the company, which we will launch to supporters at the AGM/Supporters’ Forum. At this point it will also be published on our website.
‘The Cardiff Blues Way’ clearly and concisely states who we are, what we stand for and what we hope to achieve. It details our cultural values and the departmental strategies for Commercial, Communications and Marketing, Community, Finance, Governance, Operations Rugby and Rugby Development.
On the pitch:
It is fair to say it has been a frustrating start to the season and we are all bitterly disappointed with some of our Guinness PRO14 performances and results and most recently last Saturday against Leicester Tigers in the European Challenge Cup.
We are acutely aware of the disappointment among supporters, but I can assure you that no one hurts more during these times than the players and staff that work so tirelessly.
Our squad depth has been severely tested due to the Rugby World Cup, subsequent return to play timescales and injuries to key players but the squad and coaching staff are working incredibly hard to put things right on the pitch.
With some of these points in mind, we have moved to secure the services of Filo Paulo until the end of the season and he will give us some added size, physicality and ball-carrying ability in the front five. As I write this Filo is in the air and he will link up with us later this week with a view to being available to face Pau.
Looking further ahead, I am working hard with John Mulvihill to strengthen some key areas of the squad ahead of next season. We are in positive dialogue with some excellent potential recruits, who will give us much more strength in depth and balance across our squad.
Off the pitch:
I am sure many of you will also be aware that our accounts for the last financial year have been published and they make for pleasing reading with a small profit.
While these remain challenging times, our losses were significantly reduced from £1,972,000 to £527,000 and we increased our turnover by more than 35 per cent.
The majority of this increase in revenue was as a result of the new Professional Rugby Agreement and the growth of commercial revenue, while we remain indebted to our Life President Peter Thomas and fellow director Martyn Ryan.
We are in a much healthier position and behind the scenes we are working very hard and planning for what I assure you is a bright future at Cardiff Blues. It remains a time of change for Professional Rugby in Wales, but we are all working tirelessly for the betterment of Cardiff Blues.
As I am sure you are aware, talks are ongoing with CVC Capital Partners and I am hopeful that these matters will conclude shortly. We will then work in earnest on strengthening all areas of the business and delivering an exciting future for all.
Our chairman, Alun Jones, is working relentlessly with the Professional Rugby Board and, while not in the public eye, Alun’s commitment to the cause both in terms of the strategic direction of Cardiff Blues and the PRB is unquestionable.
Once these elements are concluded, Alun is as keen as I am to address supporters at the Supporters Forum.
A common query and sometimes grievance this season continue to centre around our kick-off times. Unfortunately, this is almost entirely out of our control and is dictated by our broadcast partners. We are often equally frustrated however the revenue generated by these broadcast deals is not only significant but essential to us.
Our preferred kick-off times remain 7.35pm on a Friday and on a Saturday afternoon. We will continue to canvas the tournament organisers and broadcasters on this and hope we will have more supporter -friendly games in future as we are very much aware of the importance of attracting future generations.
The squad’s return to the Arms Park has been a smooth one and while some of the changes have had an impact upon our match-day offering, we have invested in the Fanzone, introduced a new Kids’ Zone and will continue to make improvements where possible.
We all know how important, and pressing, it is to improve facilities and match-day experience at Cardiff Arms Park, but it is impossible for us to do so with such a short time remaining on our lease.
Securing a new lease extension remains our number one priority, as it has for many years, and Cardiff Athletic Club (CAC) understand that urgency. A healthy dialogue continues between us and I’m hopeful supporters, who are also members of CAC, will stress the importance of this at Wednesday’s CAC AGM.
It would also be irremissible of me not to extend my congratulations to our advisory board members Sam Warburton and Martyn Williams on their recent appointments with the Welsh Rugby Union. We are very pleased for both and will discuss their new roles and the potential impact at our next full board meeting on Thursday, November 27.
Our other new board members are already making an invaluable contribution and we have all been delighted with the impact they have had.
Hayley Parsons has already given a fantastic amount of support not only to myself but to senior management in terms of our sponsorship and hospitality, operations and marketing, while Andrew Williams has been assisting me on the strategic direction of the business, our structures and financial reporting.
Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to seeing many of you very soon.