Newlands sale: Who to believe?

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:18
Large the boardroom   wprfu  remgro   aerios 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The complex labyrinth of specious and discombobulating statements has further added to the disputable reputation of Western Province Rugby Football Union officials.

It is not always easy to unravel the truth from the maze built by the WP brains trust.

And their latest aversive responses to claims that talks surrounding the sale of Newlands are already underway, have added fuel to the fire.

WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield has vehemently denied that he is in talks to sell the iconic stadium.

"No decision has been taken to sell Newlands and no sale agreement is in place," Wakefield said in an email he sent to the union's almost 100 clubs.

However, this contradicts two recent statements about the possible sale of Newlands - one by Wakefield himself and another by the Southern Palace Group of Companies.

SPG, who purchased Murray and Roberts Construction (now called Concor), last week told media outlets that they are in "advanced stages" of discussion with the WPRFU.

Wakefield also went public with the fact that a move from Newlands to the Cape Town stadium is 'imminent'.

He suggested in a media interview that upgrades to Newlands would not be necessary.

"Why spend money on Newlands now, if a move to Cape Town Stadium is imminent?" Wakefield was quoted in a media interview - a statement he has not denied, despite the more recent claim that they are not planning to sell the stadium.

Wakefield also described talks with the city council about the move away from Newlands as "exploratory".

It is not surprising that one of the WPRFU/WP Rugby's creditors, Aerios, have questioned Wakefield's motives.

Apart from the ZAR270-million they are claiming from WPRFU and the bankrupt WP Rugby in protracted legal proceedings, Aerios CEO Costas Constantinou has been at pains to expose what he feels is the deceitful ways of Wakefield and company.

Constantinou said on Monday it is understood that a 'memorandum of understanding' between the City of Cape Town and WPRFU may have already been signed.

Aerios has put in a request under the 'Promotion of Access to Information Act' for all documentation regarding the sale of Newlands and the move to Cape Town Stadium, to clarify exactly at what stage these discussions are.

Constantinou said the "secrecy" regarding the move to the Cape Town Stadium and the negotiations regarding the sale of the Newlands should be cause for concern to the clubs that are part of the union, and to the sponsors and supporters of the game in the Western Cape.

"Given the current political climate in which we find ourselves and the liquidation of Western Province Rugby (Pty) Ltd, I would have expected a new culture of transparency and inclusivity within WPRFU," Constantinou said - adding that the clubs, sponsors and supporters of the union and the city's ratepayers are being kept in the dark and that he is "looking forward to receiving the PAIA documentation from the City of Cape Town; that will clear up a lot of the confusion".

The two factions' statements in full:

Urgent message from President of the WPRFU, Thelo Wakefield, regarding the email circulated to all WPRFU Clubs, by Hayes Incorporated on behalf of their client Aerios, dated 15 November 2017

Dear colleagues

I wish to bring to your attention that the email circulated to all WPRU Clubs, by Hayes Incorporated on behalf of their client Aerios, dated 15 November 2017, is devoid of truth.
1. No decision has been taken to sell Newlands and no sale agreement is in place.
2. Should any future decision be contemplated, the Constitutional requirements would be followed in full.
3. The decision to liquidate WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd was taken by the Executive Committee, on 7 November 2016, in line with the terms of the Constitution.

Our attorneys are in possession of the email circulated to clubs and will formulate an appropriate legal response shortly. I will keep you appraised of progress.

Regards.

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF AERIOS REGARDING THE POSSIBLE SALE OF NEWLANDS STADIUM

Why does WPRFU refuse to be transparent about the sale of Newlands Rugby Stadium?

In media reports over the weekend, WP Rugby Football Union president, Thelo Wakefield, has vehemently denied that he is in talks to sell Newlands Rugby Stadium. Wakefield made the comments, after sending an email to the Union’s almost 100 clubs, claiming that a sale was never on the cards. This urgent denial comes after one of its creditors, Aerios, advised the clubs that a sale of the stadium may already have been concluded.
Wakefield claimed that "Newlands will never be sold, nor will any other property of Western Province be sold. That is a decision we took, it is a principled decision. It is not even on the table for discussion, it is absurd. How can we sell a property like Newlands?"
However, this directly contradicts a statement made by the Southern Palace Group of Companies (SPG), stating that they are in "advanced stages" of discussion with the WPRFU. SPG has purchased Murray and Roberts Construction, which is now called Concor.

It seems that Wakefield is not only contradicting SPG (who is also a major sponsor of the Springboks), but he’s also contradicting himself. As recently as the beginning of this month, Wakefield claimed that upgrades to Newlands stadium would not be necessary, saying "Why spend money on Newlands now, if a move to Cape Town Stadium is imminent?". This is not the first time he’s mentioned the move. In October Wakefield stated to media, "I know that there are emotions involved, but in the end, that does not pay the bills. It is inevitable that we move… If our vision is to be the leading union in the world, we must have world-class facilities".

It’s understood that an MOU between the City of Cape Town and WPRFU may have been signed. Aerios has put in a PAIA request for all documentation regarding the sale of Newlands and the move to Cape Town Stadium, to clarify exactly at what stage these discussions are. However, Wakefield, in his own words has already announced to the press that talks have been held with the City of Cape Town, adding that a media statement would be made at an "opportune time".

Aerios CEO, Costas Constantinou, says the secrecy regarding the move to the Cape Town Stadium and the negotiations regarding the sale of the Newlands Stadium should be cause for concern to the clubs that are part of the Union, and to the sponsors and supporters of rugby in the Western Cape. "Given the current political climate in which we find ourselves and the liquidation of Western Province Rugby (Pty) Ltd, I would have expected a new culture of transparency and inclusivity within WPRFU". Constantinou also said that the clubs, sponsors and supporters of the Union and the City’s ratepayers are being kept in the dark and that he is "looking forward to receiving the PAIA documentation from the City of Cape Town; that will clear up a lot of the confusion".

Despite Wakefield’s claims over the weekend that "There are contingencies in place to repay debtors, the only one being Remgro", Wakefield has refused to explain what these strategies are and what the financial status of the Union is. "Mr Wakefield’s distrust of the people of the Western Cape and his covert decision-making style has certainly played a role in the exponential decline of supporters attending fixtures at the Newlands Stadium", says Constantinou.

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