Cardiff CEO Richard Holland is confident new Welsh Rugby Union boss Abi Tierney will find solutions to the difficulties facing the game in Wales but insists hard decisions still have to be made.

Tierney will announce the WRU's new strategy for rugby in Wales at all levels this June and the professional arm of the game will be at its forefront. All four professional clubs in Wales - Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - will see their playing budgets cut to as low as £4.5m next season, although two marquee players are permitted above the salary cap.

Despite the Ospreys reaching the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup the professional game in Wales is struggling badly, evidenced by Wales finishing their Six Nations campaign with a first Wooden Spoon for 21 years. "I have been encouraged by the approach taken by the Welsh Rugby Union’s new Chief Executive, Abi Tierney, and her executive, and I am confident they will find solutions to the difficulties we have," said Holland in a newsletter to Cardiff supporters.

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"They have begun a new era of leadership at the WRU with an inclusive environment, but tough and brave decisions will still be required in order for the professional and international game to be competitive again. One thing I have also learnt during my time here is that we need to be less reliant upon others and must make decisions for our business based upon current realities.

"We cannot worry about other factors and ‘what ifs’, but will instead focus on the current situation. So while I am very encouraged by what I am seeing and growing in optimism, we will take a cautious approach to ensure our long-term sustainability."

Despite recently posting a loss of just over £2m, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Cardiff after new investors Helford Capital acquired an 84.55% share of the club at the start of the year. And Holland is quietly confident they will be in a stronger position next season.

"From a rugby point of view, we have been able to begin planning for next season and the priority has been on retaining our young talent, which we have largely been able to achieve," said Holland. "You will have seen plenty of announcements around new contracts for the likes of Alex Mann, Cam Winnett, Mackenzie Martin, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti and Jacob Beetham.

"We have made a significant signing in Callum Sheedy and are bringing back a pair of highly-rated pathway products following their education across the border in terms of Steffan Emanuel and Tom Bowen. Matt Sherratt has also bolstered his back-room staff with the incoming appointment of Corniel van Zyl as forwards coach, with Scott Andrews focusing on the scrum, and Gethin Jenkins agreeing a full-time contract for next season.

"We have plenty of other announcements to make in terms of retention and recruitment. While inevitably there will be some further departures, all in all we believe we will be in a stronger position in 2024-25.

"Thanks to the support of Helford Capital, we are also now exploring opportunities, which could enable us to bring in full-time coaches and support staff throughout our pathway."

One of the biggest threats facing Welsh rugby is the high number of young talent getting picked up by prestigious English schools such as Hartpury, Clifton and Millfield.

This inevitably leads to players gaining academy contracts with English Premiership clubs and in some instances playing for England at age grade. But Cardiff have formed a plan to retain their best young talent.

"We already know we have an extremely strong pathway, which can be seen in the Welsh National team, where 40% of the new Welsh senior caps have been developed through our Cardiff Rugby Pathway system since August 2018," said Holland. "What is important now is that we provide the support and infrastructure to not only retain our best talent, but to fully utilise it and allow these players to fulfil their full potential in Blue and Black.

"To that end, something we are continuing to develop and invest in are our scholarship programmes. We have already seen some great examples of this and need to ensure that if a talented young player does decide to take up an educational opportunity across the border, it is fully aligned and run in conjunction with ourselves.

"We have some outstanding educational institutions on our doorstep and we will continue to work very closely with all of these, but we cannot restrict or negatively impact our pathways if students decide to take up offers elsewhere."

Holland also provided an update on plans to upgrade the club's facilities. "As I am sure you are all now aware, we have withdrawn from plans to develop Pentwyn Leisure Centre in partnership with Cardiff Council and GLL," he said. "We are now continuing with our new plans to develop a semi-temporary facility behind the north stand, with a number of potential options currently being worked through.

"There is no doubt that, although temporary, these new facilities will be an upgrade on what we currently have. Jamie Muir, our Stadium Manager, and Ryan Campbell, our Senior Strength and Conditioning coach, are leading on this project to ensure the facility includes everything rugby need and exactly how they require it.

"Having all of our facilities on one site will make a big difference to enhance our environment, reduce travel time and improve cohesion in our program. It also means we will not be committed to a long-term project at Pentwyn while there is renewed ambition to redevelop Cardiff Arms Park with relationships between all relevant parties positive and conversations continuing."