Cardiff Blues Chief Holland Denies Return to Former Stadium

January 11, 2012

New Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland has quashed rumours the club will move from current stadium Cardiff City Stadium back to former home Cardiff Arms Park as he vows to bring back the crowds to the stadium.

The 38-year-old has replaced the departed Robert Norster having previously held posts as executive director of Chepstow and Hereford racecourses, as well as being vice-president of corporate relations and sales at Celtic Manor.

He joins the region during what is proving to be a challenging time on and off the field for domestic rugby in Wales.

All four professional regions, the Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Dragons, have played in front of disappointing crowds this season, with the Blues currently averaging attendances of around 7,000, which contrasts with the 22,000 that Cardiff City regularly attract to Championship games.

The move to Cardiff City Stadium, where the Blues have played since 2009 after taking up a 20-year lease, has proved unpopular with a section of the region’s support and there had been speculation that they could make a return to the Arms Park.

But Holland insists that crowd numbers can be improved and that a move will not be necessary.

“We have two big weeks ahead with London Irish and Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup, particularly the Racing game which is at home,” he said. “I want to re-engage the critics who are not so keen on Cardiff City Stadium and also look at how we can open ourselves up to a new market.

“The stadium is brilliant, a fantastic facility, and the team need people to support them, especially for the game against Racing as we want to secure a home quarter-final and it would be brilliant to have that home quarter-final for the fans.

“The more people that come down the better the atmosphere and hopefully the team will perform in line with that.”

When asked about the prospect of a return to the Arms Park, he added: “My brief is to make it work at Cardiff City Stadium, full stop.

“I live in the north of Cardiff and I drive to the ground every day and it takes me 25 minutes. Over Christmas I caught the train to a game and it took me 17 minutes plus a short walk to the stadium.

“When I got there the facilities were world class. Our pricing structure is great value, £24 for a family ticket, two adults and two children, is very accessible.

“We go to great lengths to make it easier with a free shuttle to and from Cardiff. The football club gets a big crowd and that’s what I want to happen at the rugby.

“We need to engage with people in all four corners of our region and I will make sure we do that hopefully that will bear fruit.”