Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas bemoans financial gap

Peter Thomas
Peter Thomas expects the Blues to have a successful Heineken Cup campaign

Chairman Peter Thomas admits Cardiff Blues have found it hard to compete with the financial might of Europe's top clubs in the Heineken Cup.

The Blues begin this season's campaign on Friday night in Paris against French Top 14 side Racing Metro.

"We don't have the financial resources of the larger clubs," said Thomas.

"I've thrown the kitchen sink financially at Cardiff Blues and last year we didn't even get out of the pool."

Since Cardiff lost against Toulouse in the inaugural final in 1996, the Blues have only reached the semi-final once and were not among last season's last eight.

The Blues were quarter-finalists in 2008 where they lost to Toulouse, but defeated the French side a year later to reach the semi-final.

However they lost out on a place in the final following a penalty shoot-out defeat against Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium.

The Blues, who lifted the Amlin Cup in 2010, failed to reach last season's quarter-finals despite finishing second in their pool.

"There have been periods of disappointment and periods of recognisable success," said Thomas of the region's Heineken Cup record.

"I'm very proud of the fact for the last two years we've been top six seeds.

"The only reason you get to [be] a top six seed is because it's based on your record over the last four years.

"I would liked to have seen us get to another final, maybe this year.

"Each year you want to go one step further and this year is another year we want to go one step further.

"I was thrilled that we won the Amlin Cup. We're still the only people in Wales to bring home a European cup."

Along with Racing Metro, London Irish and Edinburgh are the Blues' other Pool 2 rivals and Thomas believes the Blues can advance to the last eight.

"There are no easy pools in the Heineken Cup," he said.

"But I think that every member of the Cardiff Blues playing squad will tell you 'we'll take what we've got.'

"Our first trip to Racing Metro is going to be a real challenge but we've got a very strong squad this year.

"Confidence is high. We've got a great blend of youngsters and mature players there.

"Without any doubt we fully expect this not only to be a very hard campaign but we expect it to be a successful one."