Impressive Alun Jones faces conflict of interest questions

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New Cardiff Blues chairman Alun Jones made a solid start to his tenure at the Arms Park in a WalesOnline interview during the week, but will still face questions from shareholders and supporters concerned about conflicts of interest between this role and his day job.

Likely a new name to many supporters, Jones was selected after a selection process run by a specialist company. Current Cardiff Blues director Martyn Ryan was the man expected to succeed outgoing Peter Thomas, but although he made it to the interview process, he ultimately missed out on the job.

Instead it was Hugh James Solictors managing partner Alun Jones who got the nod, and he will begin as Cardiff Blues Limited chairman on 1st January, with plenty on his plate.

He will have to deal with Project Reset and associated governance changes at the Arms Park as two new non-executive directors come on board and the WRU set governance targets that will be rewarded financially.

Then there is the cash flow issue, with Peter Thomas’ pockets no longer readily available and questions being asked about whether the WRU is able to fund the professional game to a level where we are competitive with Ireland and Scotland, let alone England and France.

Finally there is the ground, with Cardiff Athletic Club seemingly in no rush to be pushed towards a new lease deal, yet an important part of Cardiff Blues future depending on the outcome of any such negotiation.

First though, there are questions to answer, which supporters will likely get a chance to ask an a question and answer session arranged in the new year.

The main question has to be how Jones will balance being Cardiff Blues chairman with being a managing partner at the firm which act as the Welsh Rugby Union’s legal advisors.

Peter Thomas
Peter Thomas will step down after 22 years of putting money into the club

We are assured that there is no conflict of interest, and that Alun is his own man when it comes to issues like this, but the cynic would suggest this is a stealth move taking Cardiff Blues towards becoming union-owned.

Nay-sayers out there would suggest the WRU want a two-team professional tier, concentrating resources between an eastern and western hub, however this would be catastrophic for the prized Team Wales asset, killing any chance of creating depth and keeping the best players in the country.

There is also concern over the fact the WRU would be more than keen to get themselves access to some land on the Arms Park site, with hotel opportunities being talked about throughout that area of town. Any deal would need to suit the Cardiff Blues for the future of the regional side to look positive.

With both of these scenarios there could well be situations where Alun Jones could find his firm advising the WRU to take a course of action that doesn’t necessarily benefit the company of which he is the chairman. Is there really no conflict of interest there?

In his WalesOnline interview he spoke passionately about watching Gareth Davies and Terry Holmes when he was younger, aims of winning the European Cup, staying at the Arms Park and improving recognition of work done around the region.

This is all encouraging, as is his experience of running a business the size of Hugh James, but the proof will be in the pudding.

There are many roads Cardiff Blues can go down from here, but where Alun Jones will take us remains to be seen. A road to independent success would be great…

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