WP straight-bats claims of financial woes

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:10
Large paul zacks wp rugby 800

REACTION: The Western Province Rugby Football Union has dismissed 'materially inaccurate' reports that they are engaged in court action with a commercial rights company.

Recent reports have suggested that not only will WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd - the commercial arm of WPRFU - show a projected loss of ZAR11.2-million for the year, but they face claims of ZAR72-million from Aerios, a company whose stated commercial focus is to sell sponsorship rights in sport.

According to the report - first published late last week and having gained significant legs over the weekend - the alleged dispute between WP Rugby and the commercial company centres on two key areas.

The first issue was reportedly related to the Cape Town leg of the Sevens World Series and the second to WP and the Stormers' headline sponsor DHL.

Paul Zacks, Group CEO of WPRFU and WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, dismissed the report as containing "a number of material inaccuracies".

"We will deal with this in due course," Zacks told rugby365, when contacted about the ongoing reports of financial woes at the union and the Super Rugby franchise.

"No legal proceedings have been issued for any amount allegedly owing to Aerios," he added.

"We are engaging with Aerios and currently working hard to resolve areas of dispute with them, as we would with any commercial partner.

"We will provide further clarity in due course."

Although Zacks would not elaborate, it has become obvious that the initial report does contain certain obvious inaccuracies.

The Cape Town leg of the Sevens World Series is World Rugby event, hosted and managed by the South African Rugby Union.

WP Rugby and the WPRFU are not involved the Sevens World Series in any way and nor do they have any agreement with the Cape Town Stadium or the City of Cape Town, owners of the stadium in Greenpoint.

The DHL claim in the article also has some credibility issues, as it was renewed in 2013 - a year before the agreement was due for re-negotiation - before Aerios came onto the scene.

The terms of the sponsorship include naming rights to the home stadium of Western Province Rugby, Newlands, WP's provincial teams and the Stormers.

This deal was done through the Treble Group, which lists on its official website WP, the Stormers and DHL as being among their "exclusive commercial partners".

"The Treble Group's commercial partnership with Western Province Rugby includes managing Club Newlands and strategic planning in terms of Broadcasting/Media Rights Sales, Sponsorship Sales Strategy and Marketing," the group states on their website.

"Treble is also responsible for the Stadium Commercialisation, which includes:  Sponsors/Suppliers, Ticketing, Food & Beverage, Hospitality and Promotions."

It is unclear when Aerios became the holders of the commercial rights of the union.

There is no clarity on the accuracy of claims in the initial report that four board members - Nathan Erasmus, Johan van der Merwe, Viola Manuel and Suliman Mahomed - resigned late last month as independent directors from the board of WP Rugby.

It is unclear how this relates to the financial disputes, as Zacks straight-batted any attempts to obtain more details on the issues surrounding WP Rugby's financial status.

Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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