DA to pull plug on Kings' rescue plan?
NEWS: Democratic Alliance Mayoral Candidate, Athol Trollip, dropped a bombshell for the beleaguered Eastern Province rugby Union at the weekend, when he said that the ZAR20-million support package that had been promised by the municipality was not a done deal.
The professional arm of the union, EP Rugby Pty Ltd, which has been plagued by controversy relating to its finances and administration, was placed under final liquidation in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.
The application, brought on behalf of several players who are still owed outstanding salaries from last year, went unopposed after a Business Rescue Plan that had been tabled by EP Rugby's legal representation earlier, was withdrawn.
The liquidation order, and the withdrawal of the business rescue plan backed by a potential UK based sponsor who had offered a five year, ZAR100 million deal for the embattled rugby union, had led to many speculating that the EP Kings would make way for the Leopards in this year's Currie Cup Premier Division.
However, shortly after the liquidation, SA Rugby released a statement to say that the EP Kings would remain in the Premier Division, following the announcement of a ZAR20-million support package from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
According to the statement, ZAR6 million for EP Rugby had already been approved, with the remaining amount expected to be ratified soon by the Nelson Mandela Bay council.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, thanked mayor Danny Jordaan for his willingness to assist the beleaguered union.
"We are very grateful that the Metro has pledged their support and we're confident that they will be able to assist with procuring additional sponsors for the Kings," he said.
The Municipality City Manager, Johann Mettler, has been tasked to ensure that a suitable vehicle is established to drive the support package in consultation with EP (through its SA Rugby administrator, Monde Tabata) and the EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd Liquidator.
But Trollip questioned the timing of the announcement during a press briefing on Saturday.
"How can the outgoing mayor be making decisions, and deals on the quiet with people, when council hasn't even endorsed it?”
"Obviously this was very premature and irregular and we will have to relook at it," he said.
"There will be a new council here and the new council will make decisions on what we do about rugby," he said.
Trollip said it was important that Nelson Mandela Bay retain a professional rugby team.
"I believe that we need a rugby team in the Eastern Province, Eastern Province is renowned for rugby, it's just been in the doldrums for so long because it has been mal-administered."
"People like [EP Rugby Union President] Cheeky Watson have destroyed EP Rugby, and he was a member of the ANC, and he did that under the ANC’s watch," he said.
"We want to bring back proper sports administration, and if we can do that, we can support them," he said.
Derrick Spies for rugby365