On the face of it you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cardiff Blues Ltd and Cardiff Athletic Club have a good working relationship. Dig a little deeper though and it becomes apparent that actually the same old divisions are, in fact, still in place.
There’s been a number of public statements in regards to negotiations about a lease for the Arms Park over the last year in particular, and the majority follow the lines of ‘both parties are in positive dialogue and are working together to secure the future of rugby at the Arms Park’.
It’s certainly not untrue that there have been plenty of discussions, but how positive they are and whether they actually are working together to secure the future of Cardiff Blues, Cardiff RFC and the Arms Park is a matter for debate, judging by comments made both publicly and behind closed doors.
Figures within CAC have certainly spoken highly of new CBL chairman Alun Jones, describing him as someone obviously keen to speak regularly with the Athletic Club and get discussions moving towards some kind of positive outcome, but there is more than a level of distrust still in place there.
CAC chairman Keith Morgan was noticeably annoyed by an element of Cardiff Blues CEO Richard Holland’s recent newsletter to supporters which called on those who are Athletic Club members to stress the urgency of matters regarding the lease at the AGM, as if CAC didn’t already understand the urgency.
The feeling was that if the situation was so critical, then why don’t Cardiff Blues work harder to get an agreement in place, and the feeling towards CBL is understandable given the messing around that has been done by the professional rugby business over the last decade and particularly the last three years.
Switch to the other side though, and if you were to stick a listening device on the walls of the CBL offices at the Arms Park (I haven’t done this, your honour), then you would certainly hear some strong words spoken about CAC.
The feeling is that the Athletic Club are too keen to protect their own interests, and the interests of sections that aren’t rugby, rather than work for the future of Cardiff Rugby and the Arms Park. An amateur organisation deep into the world of professional rugby.
This week was of course the second AGM in the calendar year, due to the desire to switch it from March to November, and there has been no noticeable progress in terms of nailing down plans for the redevelopment/refurbishment of the Arms Park, or even appointing a developer, in the intervening eight months.
At the root of it all is a continuing lack of acknowledgement on both sides that Cardiff Blues and Cardiff Athletic Club are inextricably linked, in a sporting sense by Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC, in a location sense by the Arms Park, and in a legal sense, via the heritage shares.
In the last 10 years there has been no evidence that either side are prepared to properly work together for something that is bigger than them both, Cardiff Rugby and the Arms Park. The sooner egos and personal pride are left at the door by individuals of both CAC and CBL the better.
Until then we have to make do with fake public statements of harmony and positive dialogue.