It has been some time since my last full CEO newsletter, which I must apologise for, but quite simply there have been so many challenges, negotiations and counter-proposals in the ever-changing and fragile Welsh rugby landscape that it never seemed the appropriate time to write to you.
We have delayed in the hope of giving you some more substantial insight, information or progress made but on the back of some of the most tumultuous weeks in Welsh rugby, I wanted to pick this back up at the earliest opportunity.
I have written, signed off and scheduled this update on numerous occasions, most recently last Tuesday, before news broke of potential player action ahead of the Wales v England in the Six Nations.
We have enormous sympathy with players and coaches who find themselves in the middle of this crisis. We are all human and like us they have mortgages and bills to pay, families to provide for.
But as a number of them have now pointed out, their threat of action is not about how much they earn but the fact that we have not been able to offer contracts due to the delay in reaching an agreement with the WRU.
We now find ourselves in a hugely significant moment for the future of Welsh rugby as a whole and there may still be some short-term pain but we have the opportunity to effect positive, lasting change.
Alun and I addressed our entire squad and rugby department on Monday, February 20, where we gave a very honest presentation of the new financial model and the impact it will have on our business. The current reality is we have a limited about of funding available after our existing liabilities to be able to contract players and coaches.
Simply, there is not enough money to do that currently but we trying to unlock transition funding through PRB and are exploring other means individually to raise capital - I will be sending communications to our shareholders on this matter in the coming weeks.
It we can achieve an uplift in capital investment then it will allow us the capability to contract the required amount of players to construct a squad for next season.
As it stands, all regions have received the long form documentation of the new deal with the WRU. We are currently going through the fine detail of this and held a board meeting on Monday evening. We have a financial board meeting on Wednesday and a further full board meeting on Friday, where we hope to be in a position to sign the deal. The board fully accept this deal is not perfect but will ensure our survival and from there we can begin to rebuild.
The delay in getting a deal done has put a lot of strain on the company and we remain enormously grateful to our Life President Peter Thomas for his continued support. We have said in the past that we would not be here today if it were not for Peter’s generosity and that unwavering support continues.
At this point I would like to place on record my thanks to the CF10 Trust for their continued support through this difficult period. Their support and campaigning, along with their JSG colleagues, has been very noticeable and is both valuable and important to us all.
We were very clear on our position with regards to the BBC Wales Investigates programme, the culture and behaviours documented at the Welsh Rugby Union and what we felt needed to happen. You can read our Cardiff Rugby statement here:
To make it very clear, we will not accept any level of discrimination and will play our part to drive it out of our sport and society.
We fully support, and endorsed, Hayley Parson’s hugely moving and passionate letter to Ieuan Evans, which addressed not only that culture of discrimination, bullying and misogyny within the WRU but the relationship we have had with them and why we have sometimes opted to often say nothing at all in the public domain.
We welcome and endorse the proposed modernisation of the Welsh Rugby Union board, which we have no doubt will deliver more support for the entire game in Wales, and in particular the professional game.
We implore all clubs to vote in favour of the reforms proposed by the Welsh Rugby Union, so that the Union can develop a governance structure that enables all tiers of the game in Wales to thrive and to achieve.
The continued negotiations, contract embargo, and lack of budget clearly has an impact on the players and coaches out of contract, who are dealing with an uncertain future.
It is important that we recognise this uncertainty and thank all of those in the rugby department who are affected by this for their patience, understanding and professionalism. It is a difficult time for many, but I know Dai cannot speak highly enough of how they are getting on with the job and focusing on rugby.
On the pitch, the first team were in a very promising position going into the Christmas period but two derby defeats at the Arms Park were a set-back. It was important to get back to winning ways against Benetton Rugby last week and we are now counting down the days to another crucial BKT United Rugby Championship against Ulster Rugby. With everything going on and our standing in the URC, it is no exaggeration to say this is one of the biggest and most important fixtures of the season and I implore you to come out in numbers to support us.
We are fighting on two fronts and have now qualified for the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup with a home Round of 16 fixture against Sale Sharks on Saturday, April 1.
I appreciate an 8pm kick-off is not ideal for a lot of supporters, but I urge you to get behind the team and make a difference at the Arms Park. We have had some great times in the Challenge Cup and it would be wonderful to go on another cup run.
Tickets for both games are available now by clicking here.
Cardiff RFC remain at the top of the Indigo Welsh Premiership and are seven points clear of Llandovery, who are second.
My congratulations goes to the eight Cardiff Rugby players involved in Wales’ Six Nations squad, particularly Mason Grady and Teddy Williams who are included for the first time and it was superb to see the former make his debut against England.
Cardiff Athletic Club / Cardiff Arms Park
There are no further updates to provide on negotiations with Cardiff Athletic Club over the potential redevelopment of Cardiff Arms Park. We continue to wait for direction from the CAC PropCo and hope for progress soon. Resolving this position is clearly central to our future plans for the club.
Off the field, we go from one very busy period into another with the festive season not long gone and now the Six Nations in full swing.
We were delighted to sell out our New Year’s Day, with 12,125 in attendance and that saw us achieve a higher level of ticketing income than we have seen previously. This was closely followed by another bumper 10,486 crowd against the Scarlets and these attendances not only provide a timely financial boost to the club but demonstrate the appetite for rugby in Cardiff and the potential we have.
All hospitality for these games was also sold out, which was brilliant to see, and we are now enjoying a full calendar of sold out events in the marquee during the Six Nations.
My sincere thanks goes to all of our backroom staff for their hard work to facilitate this and of course, to you our supporters for continuing to come through our gates.
Another reason for encouragement was a recent report received from the Fan Experience Company, in which we scored highly and finished second out of the 12 teams involved.
By no means do we believe our match-day experience is perfect, and we know there are plenty of areas to improve, but with a dated facility limiting what we can do it is good to see the off-field team’s hard work paying dividends.
While on this occasion the feedback come from a ‘mystery shopper’ we survey match ticket purchasers after every game and Season Members at least twice a year, but if you have any further comments you can email [email protected].
During this period, the commercial team have also secured a number of renewals and new partnerships, which we will continue to announce, but you will notice a lot of new branding around the ground.
We will continue to keep you updated as the season progresses and hope to see you in the coming weeks. Your support is the lifeblood of this club and together we can ensure the future is bright.