Two of Wales’ rugby regions have endured mixed financial fortunes, according to their latest accounts.
Cardiff Blues’ annual pre-tax losses increased by almost £1.5million in the 12 months to June 2017, which saw net debt rise to close to £15.5m.
However Scarlets’ finances were vastly improved during their Pro12 title season.
They more than halved pre-tax losses for the same period to just over £600,000, reducing net debt to £2.2m.
The Blues’ net debt rose to £15,451,462 during the year, while Scarlets brought theirs down to £2,224,967.
Scarlets finished the season as Pro12 winners while Blues finished seventh.
On the pitch
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said in his report that while there were many positives in the 2016-17 season, “progress was slower than hoped”.
Seventeen players left the squad during the summer of 2016, with the likes of Nick Williams, Matthew Morgan and Willis Halaholo coming on board.
There were also the re-signings of experienced international players Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Taufa’ao Filise.
Holland said recognition on the international stage was “lower than anticipated” with just four players named in Wales’ Six Nations squad.
The Blues, who finished seventh in the Pro12 and reached the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, saw net debt rise to £15,451,462 following annual pre-tax losses of £1,454,423.
However it was a different story for Scarlets both on and off the pitch.
Chairman Nigel Short said their success had been “particularly gratifying” in that they had a “highly constrained” annual squad budget of £4.5m, and were winning against teams with three times as much investment.
He said Scarlets had become a “genuinely high performing team” which have created “the Scarlets way of exhilarating, fast, open rugby”.
He also praised the region’s feeder clubs of Llandovery, Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli RFC which have “helped develop great young talent”.
Off the pitch
Discussions between the Blues and landlords Cardiff Athletic Club, who own the lease to Cardiff Arms Park, continued throughout 2016-17, but Holland said a deal on a new 150-year lease “is no closer”.
He said the maintenance of the Arms Park “remains an increasing drain” and has a “significant impact on cash flow”.
Finances were further strained due to the settlement around the Blues’ departure from Cardiff City Stadium.
Holland added it was disappointing they were unable to retain BT Sport as the sponsor of the Arms Park, which “subsequently saw a significant sponsorship shortfall”.
Short said Scarlets directors took a “deliberate decision” to continue investing into rugby during 2016-17 in order to “achieve further top performances” which resulted in the £603,817 loss that saw net debt fall to £2,224,967
He said the region was “heavily dependent” on continued investment from the Welsh Rugby Union and ensuring “the goodwill of its funding directors and supporters is rewarded”.
Parc y Scarlets as an events venue generates over £400,00 per annum, with it being in use 300 days a year. That money, Short said, is reinvested back into the professional game.
Among the Scarlets debts is a £2.6m loan taken out from Carmarthenshire council, due to be repaid by 2023.