Lions stand firm in franchise fight

Fri, 18 May 2012 12:45
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The Lions may be fighting a survival battle on several fronts, but they remain firm in their resolve to retain their Super Rugby status.

The Lions may be fighting a survival battle on several fronts, but they remain firm in their resolve to retain their Super Rugby status.

While talks continue between the South African Rugby Union and the five current franchises over Super Rugby participation beyond 2012, the Lions are also involved in a dispute with their franchise partners - the Pumas and Leopards.

Media reports on Friday suggested that SARU could implement a decision that was made at their last  Executive Council  meeting in January, which proposed that the Lions will be "automatically relegated" from Super Rugby unless they resolve the long-standing dispute with their franchise partners.

According to the reports the impasse between the Lions and their partners (Pumas and Leopards) needed to be resolved by the end of February and until the matter is resolved:
a) Broadcast revenue payments are to be withheld from the Lions
b) Payments of R750,000 each be made to the Pumas and Leopards
c) Automatic relegation from Super Rugby at the end of 2012 Super Rugby competition for the Lions.

The Golden Lions Rugby Union's acting Chief Executive, Ruben Moggee confirmed that the matter has not been resolved, but declined to elaborate.

The dispute revolves around claims by the two minor unions, Pumas and Leopards, that they are owed a substantial amount of money by the GLRU - who in turn are disputing the amount.

The matter has been refereed for arbitration, according to Moggee.

"I feel this [the media] is not the platform for us to debate the issue," the GLRU boss told this website.

"We already have enough trouble and pressure in our attempt to retain our Super Rugby status, so we will discuss this on the proper platform," he said about the arbitration process.

The latest reports follow a day after SARU revealed that they have not yet been able to resolve the issue surrounding the Southern Kings' entry into Super Rugby in 2013.

It was announced on Thursday that a further meeting between the five franchises and SARU, to discuss participation in the Super Rugby competition, will take place on Monday.

Representatives of the Bulls, Cheetahs, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, as well as the Kings, SARU presidency and management met in Johannesburg on Thursday in the latest in a series of meetings on the subject.

"Everyone was agreed that we must secure a solution that does not damage any of the existing franchises," SARU CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement.

"It is a complex issue with no easy answers and we are determined to leave no stone unturned in finding that answer."

He confirmed that a number of options were discussed, but there is currently "no preferred alternative" to recommend to the General Council.

By Jan de Koning

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