Cardiff Rugby may be moving away from the iconic Arms Park following recent discussions which have seen a lease renewal stall.
Robert Rees narrows down exactly what has gone on with Cardiff Rugby.
Cardiff Blues have been in discussions with the Cardiff Athletic Club (CAC) over extending their lease by 150 years. The current deal, which is reported to be worth £120,000 in rent annually to CAC, runs out in 2022.
Why 150 years? you may ask. Well, to get the developmental rights on the property they have to have the lease of 150 years. This is because long term planning from Peter Thomas has looked at redeveloping the site and building a multipurpose 15,000 capacity stadium.
Negotiations stalled, but not finished
Cardiff Blues CEO Richard Holland has said that “negotiations with the Athletic club have been going on for ten years.
‘’Throughout the negotiations I have been involved in during the last six years, we have agreed to the majority, if not all of CAC’s requests, including comprehensive protections around the heritage – Cardiff name, Cardiff colours, The Gwyn Nicholls gates, the museum, etc’’.
The recent discussions had seen the finances apparently agreed with an £8m deal for a 150-year lease, but this has since been rejected by CAC. News from Wednesday’s AGM suggested that confidence was lost following Peter Thomas’ suggestion that the WRU would take a lead role in controlling the company (Cardiff Blues ltd.) during the rebuild.
Holland has stressed that it’s very much Cardiff Blues preference to remain at the Arms Park.
The discussions between the Blues and CAC have been lengthy and thus there have been numerous legal bills to foot. It was heavily rumoured that the Blues had taken up these costs, but this week’s AGM has revealed otherwise.
The Cardiff Blues haven’t paid any legal costs yet, but insist they will take up the bill.
Rent owed by Cardiff Blues
Cardiff Blues are also reported to owe six months rent expected to be around £60,000. Richard Holland has admitted to owing this rent, explaining it hasn’t been paid on time due to ‘’cashflow problems’’, but insists the full repayment will be completed.
It has been noted that the previous Chair of the management committee acknowledged that rent has been allowed to be paid late in most years in recent memory.
Whilst it seems an inconvenience, it doesn’t seem to be a major concern in terms of legal action from CAC who are the landlords of the Cardiff Arms Park and are the major shareholder in the business.
Alternative accommodation for Cardiff Rugby
There are still a few years remaining on their current lease, but what are the options that the Board could/will look into? One thing for sure, they are adamant that the team will remain in Cardiff, even if it means moving and developing new grounds.
The Cardiff City stadium, where they moved too briefly in 2009, seems out of the question at this stage.
Principality Premiership grounds aren’t really up to standard and would require massive investment to become professional standard. There are two grounds available (Sardis RD and The Wern) in the Cardiff region as the last option, but it really will be an all or bust move.
Moving out of Cardiff would also require CAC’s permission, as breaking any contractual lease now means penalties might be required. But, it does appear [from the reports] that Cardiff Rugby could be moving away from the Arms Park.
Secure a future for Welsh Rugby
One thing many fans within Wales will hope for is a swift and positive end to this saga, in which they see rugby represented by four stable sides. A secure future must be the desired outcome from all sides viewpoint.
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