To renew, or not to renew

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Over the last three weeks the Cardiff Blues have been very keen to pack my inbox with reminders that I need to renew my season membership for next season.

As ever though, I’ve operated on an ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ ethos and sat on it so far, and as time has gone on the desire to actually sit down and sort out my membership for 2019/20 has severely waned.

Now this may seem like some sort of sour grapes after yesterday’s game, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in all honesty, but that of course it isn’t an isolated occurrence of the refereeing team having a major impact on a result.

Essentially, this blog looks at renewing my season membership as a business decision. Taking a decent portion of my hard earned money and spending it on a season long commitment, which takes a chunk of my precious spare time out of work, trekking the M4 between Llanelli and Cardiff, as well as two hours of the game itself.

Looking at the Cardiff Blues as a club and while there’s enough to like off-the-field, with good rewards for purchasing a season membership and the still steadily improving supporter engagement, there’s a lot to be desired that to a degree is out of our hands.

The lack of playing budget means that not only do we struggle to put together a playing squad with enough strength in depth to compete for the season, there’s also not the marquee players that really put bums on seats, and then get them off their seats during the game.

There’s no doubt that the commercial arm of Cardiff Blues Ltd could be performing at a much higher level and creating more income ourselves, and that is something we have to address.

Richard Holland
CEO Richard Holland needs to spark the commercial side of the business into life

However, when the Welsh Rugby Union appear to be actively preventing additional funding in the company, and are not paying a satisfactory amount for the services we provide, as well as introducing Project Reset and then showing no leadership as it hinders our ability to move forward, it’s tough to see the attraction.

Add in the fact that the league played in, the Guinness Pro14, does not generate enough money for us to be competitive in European competition, and on paper it’s not entirely obvious why I would renew my membership.

This leads me on to the Pro14 itself as a competition, the competition which I’ll see the most as a season member, and whether that is worth the financial and time outlay.

Am I enthused about getting into Cardiff town centre for a Friday or Saturday night to see us play Southern Kings, Zebre or Connacht? There’ll be few supporters present as there’s no pull for casual fans and away supporters aren’t common in the Pro14, the atmosphere will be dead and in all honesty the quality won’t be great.

Even when bigger teams like Glasgow and Leinster come to town there’s no certainty that they’ll be bringing a first team, and if we’re playing during the Six Nations then you can pretty much forget it. The league becomes an afterthought at best.

Then there’s the competency of the refereeing, or rather the lack of it. John Mulvihill is quoted as saying Greg Garner, head of Pro14 refereeing, has told him we’d have won the opening three games of the season if decisions had been correct, before more big decisions go against us away at Ulster and at Connacht yesterday.

I tweeted after the game in Galway that the league is ‘for the Irish, by the Irish’, and while it was an emotional response, it is one that has long been felt by many from outside the Emerald Isle.

Connacht Bundee Aki
Mike Adamson (back left) and his team played a big part in yesterday’s game

I’ve held off for a long time from directly suggesting some sort of conspiracy, and in my heart of hearts I know that there is no open collusion, but ask any sports psychologist about unconscious bias and they will tell you it was real, alive and kicking.

The Irish referees, like the TMO at yesterday’s game, are paid by the IRFU. The IRFU own Connacht. The Connacht players and coaches are paid by the IRFU. Therefore, the TMO is paid by people who have a direct interest in the result of the game they are helping officiate.

This brings the credibility of the league into serious question, and at the very least there is a continued and serious issue with the competency of the officials that does not seem as if it will be rectified any time soon.

So, to summarise, I’m being asked to renew my season membership of a rugby club that is poorly funded and struggles to be competitive in a league that is often mundane and has serious questions asked of it’s integrity.

I probably won’t be thanked for this blog by those in the management at the Cardiff Blues, but these are the stark facts facing anybody who is a potential season member at the Arms Park, and until we get real and start addressing them, nothing will get better.

For me, well I’m bloody stuck with this club now so I’ll end up doing what I always do and renewing on the last day of the early bird offer to get the cheapest ticket, before immediately regretting it.

Maybe one day those of us who are so blindly loyal will vote with our feet too though. Is that what it will take to wake the blazers up?


  1. I’ve renewed my season ticket, I also pay for my daughters season tickets too. All in all with the CAC membership and my Gold (yet to know the real worth) I will have handed over about £1k. That’s before getting there and some food and drink. In all honesty I have done this at varying costs for the last 30 odd years. All this despite those who run the Cardiff RFC/Blues. I have for a number of years questioned my sanity, always reverting to my love of the teams rather than the body. Don’t get me wrong, Peter Thomas has in my view kept us afloat. This year I don’t understand what the WRU’s long game is. They want to get rid of the reliance on the benefactors, yet not putting anything adequate in their place. I’ll be there next season along with family but what will induce me in 2020/21?


  2. 100% agree..
    The time has come for not only Blues supporters but those of the Ospreys, Scarlets & Dragons to vote with their feet too.. (Although to be fair Dragons fans have been doing that for years due to their appalling standard of rugby.. Scarlets by 20+ on Judgement Day??)
    The time is also close due to the calamity of Project Reset for our 4 regions to rebel & finally say enough!!.. We are quitting the obviously biased Pro14 & enter into negotiations with the English Premiership & form a much wanted & probably more lucrative financially Anglo – Welsh League with the option of including the Scottish teams only..
    The 14 is only run as a money maker for the Irish teams, no one outside Ireland wanted 2 South African teams added with as rumoured 2 more to follow soon.. & as for the plans for an expansion into North America that’s just gonna end in tears all round..
    But back to your original point, unless The Blues sort out a successful business strategy, while ensuring some major big names to get bums on seats & (This next point will never, ever happen) the Pro14 bring in 100% neutral officials for every single game, we the fans will be left in financial rugby limbo..
    I live in Ferndale in the Rhondda, 90 mins by bus away from CAP & I always try to arrive in Cardiff at least 90 minutes before the gates open to enjoy the Cardiff atmosphere.. But 9 times out of 10 whenever we have a stupid timing evening k/o I end up having to catch the last bus to that part of the Rhondda home & if I miss the 22:40 then I’m screwed.. I’m disabled & can’t drive & I’m constantly weighing up the argument (Even though I have a season ticket & have renewed it for 19/20).. Do I attend a cold snowy night match with the possible cancellation of the Rhondda service or do I stay home in the warmth & lose out on seeing friends & having fun at the rugby??..
    We as supporters of every non Irish club are caught in a Catch 22 situation.. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.. & if we don’t our beloved club suffers the consequences financially..
    Major apologies for the rant..


    1. I agree. I’m originally from Cardiff. However, I lived in Newport from about 96-05, then Port Talbot 05-17 and back to Newport. I pretty much drive 99% of the time since due to timings and getting there and back with public transport being iffy. I can’t remember the last time I had a pint at a game.


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