Cardiff Blues remain concerned about financial future

Cardiff Blues general manager Richard Holland believes the vast majority of supporters will support the decision to rename the organization to Cardiff Rugby for the 2021-22 season

Cardiff Blues say they remain concerned about the financial future as they have to repay a £ 5million loan.

The organization has announced that it will officially change its name to Cardiff Rugby from August 1, 2021.

Surviving last year was the initial challenge with NatWest Bank providing a business loan to the four professional Welsh teams.

“I am worried I would be cheating on everyone if I said no,” Cardiff Blues chairman Alun Jones said.

“There are positive dialogues on whether the Welsh or UK government can help or if there are options to refinance this loan.

“Options are being considered as this is the biggest headache Welsh rugby will have, at least professionally, coming out of Covid and in what we hope will be some normalcy.”

The Regions and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have an umbrella organization to manage the highest level of the game – the Professional Rugby Board (PRB).

It is understood that a planned amount of £ 26million has been allocated to the four professional teams for the 2020-21 season ahead of Covid-19, but this has fallen to less than £ 4million.

In November 2020, the four professional teams in Wales agreed on how they would share a £ 20million loan designed to help them avoid financial collapse during the pandemic.

This has since been supplemented by a Welsh government grant of £ 13.5million which will be split equally between the four Welsh parties and WRU, with each entity receiving £ 2.7million.

On the £ 20million loan, Scarlets received £ 5.5million, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys £ 5million each, and Dragons £ 4.5million via a deal the WRU negotiated with NatWest Cymru.

Supporters have criticized the WRU for what they see as a strain on the regions with the five-year loan repayment, but Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland insisted it was necessary for the time.

Richard Holland has been Managing Director of Cardiff Blues for almost 10 years

“The WRU came with a rescue package and without it we probably wouldn’t be sitting here now,” said Holland.

“We as regions at the time needed support and the WRU came up with it.

“The terms associated with the loan will make it harder for our business as a business, but so will our colleagues in other regions and this is recognized by PRB and WRU.

“The WRU came up with the package. Will the composition of this package allow us to prosper over the next five years? No. Is it approached and discussed in terms of other options? Yes.

“The WRU is not sitting there trying to make things as difficult as possible for the regions. Everyone is working hard for the common goal and the PRB is united in their point of view.

“The main goal is to get the pandemic through all four sides and be functional and competitive at the end of it.”

The PRB may be united on financial affairs, but there is an argument between Cardiff Blues and Scarlets over Dwayne Peel’s future.

The former Welsh scrum-half has signed a three-year contract join the Cardiff coaching team from Ulster this summer, but has since been linked to Scarlets.

Cardiff’s hierarchy has changed since Peel’s appointment was announced in December 2020, with Dai Young being handed the role of interim rugby manager until the end of the season following the departure of former head coach John Mulvihill.

Cardiff released a statement saying they expect Peel to honor his deal, as they are in talks with Young over his future.

“Dai is currently on a short-term contract and we are in dialogue about what the future holds,” said Holland.

Cardiff Blues interim rugby manager Dai Young on second stint with the organization
Cardiff Blues interim rugby manager Dai Young is on his second stint with the organization after leaving to coach Wasps in 2011.

“He’s doing a great job for us right now. Cardiff Rugby is a big part of Dai Young and he fully supports what we’re doing.”

Cardiff is in fourth place in Conference B with two games to go this season, against Benetton and Edinburgh, ahead of the Rainbow Cup – with South Africa’s top four teams – which is set to begin in mid-April.

The format of this tournament will only be confirmed when a final decision is made regarding the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa.

“We had a proposal on how things might look, but it’s not locked in,” Holland said.

“One of the main goals of the Rainbow Cup, certainly from a South African perspective, was to prepare their players for a Lions series. Following a Lions decision, you will see a cascade of other decisions. “

The Cardiff Blues are still negotiating an extension of the Arms Park lease with owners Cardiff Athletic Club, with the current deal ending in 2022.

They also aim to confirm a permanent training base shortly after using the facilities at the Pentwyn Recreation Center and their Arms Park field last year.

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