Cardiff Blues in summertime off-field scandal that possibly threatens our future existence, you say? I absolutely do believe you.
The whole saga with Cardiff Athletic Club has been going on so long now that I’d almost expect Israel Folau to be posting quotes from the bible about it on Instagram, if he wasn’t so busy being homophobic, but here we are in 2019 still going on about the Arms Park.
CAC have this week made a Statutory Demand for the outstanding rent arrears owed to them by Cardiff Blues Ltd for the Arms Park, believed to be around £200,000, which gives Cardiff Blues Ltd 21 days to either pay, agree to a payment plan, or potentially be left open to a winding up order.
Now, before getting into it, I have to say there are almost certainly details which I don’t know about, as neither organisation involved have any sort of track record when it comes to communicating with members/supporters in regards to off-field matters.
CAC are rarely heard from outside of AGM time, save for the occasional statement, while Cardiff Blues haven’t called a shareholder AGM for around two years now.
However, that similarity feeds into the fact, often not acknowledged by either organisation, that they are intrinsically linked and could be seen as a joint-organisation in some respects.
CAC, through their heritage shareholding, own around 15% of Cardiff Blues Ltd, with the business having been originally setup as Cardiff RFC Ltd in response to rugby turning professional. With Cardiff Athletic Club having run the rugby team before 1995, Cardiff Blues Ltd is in fact born from them. Enjoy that imagery.
Despite that there is still very much an ‘us and them’ narrative, particularly from CAC, but they should share something else at the moment, and that is a huge amount of embarrassment over current ongoings.
On the Cardiff Blues Ltd side it appears that a promise of payment has been broken again, tipping CAC over the edge, as CBL continue to mess CAC around and seemingly treat them as the amateur organisation, rather than as the landlord.
It paints a picture of a business that is still being run in an erratic fashion, lurching from off-field situation to off-field situation, without ever really acknowledging it’s own part in any possible downfall.
Then on to CAC and I start, as a member, concerned with the opening paragraph of this week’s statement, which states “At the AGM of Cardiff Athletic Club in February 2019 it was overwhelmingly approved that, if the substantial rent arrears owed by Cardiff Blues were not cleared by the end of May 2019 legal proceedings should be taken.”
Now I have reviewed my notes, my write-up of the AGM, and corroborated my memory of the meeting with others, and have discovered no evidence that a deadline of May 2019 was mentioned in the proposal approved at the AGM.
In fact my memory, and the belief of others I have spoken to who were present, was that it would be a decent amount of time before any legal proceedings were launched in regards to the debt, with my notes stating a year to 18 months was mentioned.
I have requested a copy of the minutes from CAC, with no reply as of yet.
If it does turn out to be the case that May 2019 was not part of the proposal, it would then transpire that the Management Committee have set this deadline themselves without consulting the membership, which isn’t a great look.
Aside from all that though, and even if I am mistaken and May 2019 was stated as a deadline, the timing of this action from CAC doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me.
Cardiff Blues Ltd are still very early in post-Peter Thomas era, with Alun Jones having been in post for six months and trying to bring through governance reform with changes on the board and the addition of non-executive directors.
They have just come out the other side of a highly disruptive period with Project Reset putting strain on all areas of the business, and with the financial state of play still not clear beyond the end of the coming season.
Finally, both Jones and Keith Morgan (CAC Chairman) have been publicly positive about each other and the communication that has been had as CAC take the lead on the redevelopment of the Arms Park.
I understand that CAC have likely become fed up of Cardiff Blues Ltd’s promises of pay, that £200,000 is a lot of money and no doubt the MC are under pressure from the four other sections who are keen to get their share of the money, but the feeling remains, surely a few more months could have been waited?
We know from the accounts published ahead of the AGM that CAC’s financial situation is not dire by any means, and with CBL making steps to improve the way the business is run in times acknowledged by CAC as financially tough for regional rugby, delaying action could well have been a wiser move.
Above all though it proves that these two intrinsically linked organisations continue to fail to share a common goal for the future of rugby at the Arms Park. It seems those at the top on both sides are incapable of forming this, despite the rugby membership of CAC and the supporters of Cardiff Blues largely being one and the same.