Cardiff Blues chairman Alun Jones today issued the following update to staff, supporters and all key stakeholders.
Season Membership redemption:
We have now concluded submissions for our Season Membership refund policy and have been overwhelmed by the generosity of you, our supporters.
More than 60 per cent of supporters opted to keep their money in the club by way of donation or credit and I cannot stress enough the impact your generosity will have during these difficult times.
With the significant challenges we are all facing, we appreciate not everyone was in the position to do this, however your gestures of goodwill and continued passion for Cardiff Blues means just as much.
State of play:
We are still in the midsts of a hugely challenging period and a significant amount of work is going on behind the scenes to ensure our immediate survival and long-term future.
It has been widely reported that the government’s furlough scheme has been utilised across Welsh rugby and salary reductions have also been in place. We are continuing to explore a number of cost-saving measures both as a Cardiff Blues board and with our colleagues in Welsh rugby.
It would be unfair to comment further until these processes are concluded but please rest assured that I am doing everything in my power to ensure the best way forward for Cardiff Blues.
The entire board, Richard Holland and the executive team are working tirelessly to that end and remain as determined and passionate as ever about the long-term sustainability and success of this club.
Following last week’s announcement, it was great to welcome Nigel Walker to his first board meeting last week.
I have no doubt that with his vast experience as an elite athlete, international rugby player and now as one of the UK’s most successful leaders in sport, he will be an invaluable addition to our entire business, which demonstrates our long term ambition despite the current challenges.
Andrew Williams and Hayley Parsons have now been involved for a year and we have been delighted with the expertise and hands on contribution they have made across the business.
Along with the entire board, their support and guidance on a weekly basis has been invaluable.
We would previously meet as a full board every other month, however throughout this crisis the board and various sub committees have been meeting on a weekly basis and I am incredibly grateful to all of my colleagues for their dedication, time and energy.
PRB distribution and finances:
Prior to Covid-19 we were continuing to make good progress as a company and were forecasting a break even position.
Our distribution monies from PRB were set to increase for 2020-21 due to our growing representation in the national 38, changes we implemented in regards to governance, commercial work undertaken and the success of our academy. It was clear that the strategy briefly set out in the Cardiff Blues Way was beginning to pay dividends.
However, both PRB and our own finances have been complicated by the pandemic and we are all now in a different and much more challenging situation. I am working tirelessly to secure the very best outcomes for this club.
Clearly, there are still hurdles to overcome but I am pleased that the strategy of investing in our academy and development programmes is working.
This will continue and the Cardiff Blues academy will now play a much greater role in Cardiff RFC. Having greater alignment between the two teams will enhance the pathway which will be vital for the future of the company.
Next season our academy will be the biggest it has ever been and we have also established links with English colleges to ensure future talent is not lost from our system. As mentioned previously our representation in the national 38 has increased and the additional four players are all academy products. That is testament to the strategy and the work of Gruff Rees and his team.
Prior to Covid-19 and the ensuing financial crisis, we concluded deals to sign Rhys Carré, Cory Hill and Luke Scully.
PRB collectively issued a stay on recruitment due to the current financial situation and therefore we have not engaged in any further recruitment and fully support that position.
As mentioned earlier, all employees across professional rugby in Wales, over a certain threshold, have been affected by salary reductions and these appear set to continue for the next 12 months.
At a time of so much uncertainty, salary reductions and other cost-reducing measures, Richard, the board and I are in complete agreement that it would be unfair to spend money on incoming talent while employees of the company, and their families, are being impacted financially.
Two of our three core cultural values are ‘Family’ and ‘Respect’. We would not be adhering or demonstrating these if we were still spending money. Of course we would like to further strengthen our squad and wider resources but now is not the time to do that and there is no debate to be had.
Return of rugby
It is great to have some rugby back on the horizon with two games scheduled for August 22 and 30, with the new season getting underway in October.
There is still a lot of work to do but our ambitions on the pitch remain constant - sustainable success - and while our strategy has been delayed by the impact of Covid-19, we are comfortable with our current squad and are determined to get back on track.
We will continue to grow and improve on and off the pitch and are desperately looking forward to the day we can welcome everyone back to the Arms Park.
On the pitch the players are continuing their preparations for the return of rugby later this month and will move from limited strength and conditioning to phase three, which includes a greater emphasis on rugby, next week.
We are very grateful to Cardiff Council and Good Living Leisure for allowing us the opportunity to use Pentwyn Leisure Centre as a temporary base and players and coaches have been delighted with the facilities in place.
In the coming days we will issue a full squad and training update.
Cardiff Arms Park and CAC
As you are all aware, the Arms Park remains a part of the Dragon’s Heart Hospital, which is currently due to be in place until the end of October with a six week decommission period. However, we are also acutely aware that this might change in line with the course of the pandemic and a potential second wave.
It has already been announced that we will play our August game at Rodney Parade and we have the option of continuing to use the site, which we are very grateful for. We are exploring a number of options and scenarios and will communicate the outcome when appropriate.
We also remain very grateful to Cardiff Athletic Club for their understanding in terms of a deferral in some rental payments while we navigate through this financial crisis, but the priority remains on securing a new lease or extension for the site.
There has been no progress on these negotiations as unfortunately the CAC committee has been unable to meet.
We all want the very best for Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC, who are part of the same company, and that means professional rugby at the Arms Park with a vibrant semi-professional outfit.
I believe this vision is shared by members of CAC, and the rugby section, and with so much upheaval at present I fervently hope we grasp the opportunity to collectively shape the future of both professional and semi-professional rugby in Cardiff and at the Arms Park.
I look forward to continuing our regular communications with you very soon and would once again like to reiterate our sincere thanks for your patience, understanding and support.
Cardiff Blues Chairman