Cardiff Blues Chairman Alun Jones and Chief Executive Richard Holland laid out their vision for Cardiff Blues Limited in a supporter event at the Arms Park on Thursday night.
It perhaps wasn’t the question and answer session that some were expecting, with the conversation not often touching on Project Reset and the bizarre events of last week that almost saw Scarlets and Ospreys merge.
Jones stated early on that he was not privy to information regarding those discussions, but confirmed the events as painted by the Professional Rugby Board and that for next season at least we would revert back to the status quo with more meetings to be had to thrash out details beyond that.
The main event was a PowerPoint presentation laying out the Cardiff Blues Ltd strategy going forward under the tenure of the new chairman, with the feel that he is taking the company right back to basics in a bid to move forward.
Very closely linked to the objectives set out for us as part of Project Reset, there is an overhaul of how the company works, with the newly modernised board overarching a number of sub-boards, covering the rugby department, the pathway and the community foundation, amongst others.
A supporter organisation group was a key aspect of this, with representatives from Cardiff Blues Supporters Club, the CF10 Arms Park Rugby Trust as well as the three Premiership teams in the region, all to be consulted in once a month meetings once setup.
Realising the commercial potential within the region was a slide central to the presentation, with the economic numbers laid bare for all to see, and an acknowledgement that our commercial performance relative to our potential was well down.
As Alun Jones was keen to point out, this is professional sport, without money we cannot hope to develop.
At the end of all this was then an improvement on the playing field, but objectives have been pushed back due to the impasse at the PRB, with next season’s target once again being to make the quarter-finals of European competition and the Guinness Pro14, before going to the semi-finals in 2020/21, and the finals in 2021/22.
Uniting the region was something mentioned often, with the ‘Strength Through Unity’ moniker here to stay, and the community foundation doing superb work. Engagement is up from 33,000 people to 51,000 last year, and it was acknowledged more needed to be done to highlight this.
It was difficult not to be impressed with the PowerPoint, which was delivered to all playing, coaching and office staff on Tuesday and I understand will be available on the websites of both CBSC and CF10 shortly, but at the end of the day it is just words on a screen.
The real challenge is to make the corporate speak into a working reality, something Cardiff Blues haven’t always achieved, and it has to be done against a backdrop that Martyn Ryan, also present on the night as company secretary and benefactor, noted was one of the most challenging he has seen.
What will happen with CVC, the Pro14, the Six Nations and a World Rugby Nations Championship is completely unknown, and with money hard to come by in the Welsh game it isn’t an easy time to be trading, although Ryan was confident we can ride the current storm.
Cautious optimism was displayed about the redevelopment plans for the Arms Park, despite some bizarrely inaccurate questioning from one attendee, with a desire to increase revenue from our location on international matchdays in particular.
In on-field news, some 15 players had been identified as being out of contract but who we were keen to keep on board and who wanted to stay, with three already signed to new contracts this week. They will be announced next week due to the Grand Slam build up this week.
Overall it was a night that felt like the start of something new. With the revamped club website now offering a clear narrative on who we are as the Cardiff Blues, the business is developing a clear strategy and we are gearing up for what is hopefully a sustained period of success on the field.
It should have happened in 2003, it is finally happening in 2019. Maybe, just maybe, we are finally on the right path.
It’s the hope that kills you.
Thanks to Richard Holland, Alun Jones and Martyn Ryan for giving up their time to attend and speak to supporters on Thursday night, as well as CBSC and CF10 for organising the event.