SA Rugby will continue to conduct a ‘due diligence examination’ of the business rescue plan that has been tabled to bail out the cash-strapped Eastern Province Rugby Union. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
At the end of May, it was revealed in court documents that London-based company Integrated Sport was willing to invest R100-million over the next five years as part of a proposal that aims to save the beleaguered union from facing final liquidation.
After EP Rugby filed the business rescue application, court proceedings were postponed in order to allow the parties who brought the original liquidation application – lawyers for MyPlayers (19 players) and another group of 19 players – to have sufficient time to study the proposal.
Numerous doubts and dispersions have since been cast over the credibility of Integrated Sport, including allegations that it is not a registered company in the UK, and that director Christopher Wishlade has twice been declared bankrupt.
It’s raised real question marks over the credibility of the proposed investment, although R20-million has apparently already been deposited in the trust account of EP Rugby’s attorney as a show of good faith.
There are also concerns over what portion of the proposed R100-million investment would be available to creditors, with the players alone claiming a total of R18-million in salary arrears, while Sars is also believed to be owed millions.
In April, SA Rugby assumed administrative control of the EPRU, and began to work with a number of stakeholders in their attempts to find solutions to EP Rugby’s financial problems.
A spokesman for SA Rugby said they would not endorse any investment from an entity that proved to have questionable credentials.
‘SA Rugby has spoken to a number of potential investors. As part of that process, SA Rugby will perform a due diligence examination of their bona fides in parallel to any legal process. If those bona fides are found wanting, SA Rugby would not proceed with such an entity.’
Eugene Henning, the managing director of MyPlayers, also told SARugbymag.co.za they had asked for more information to be provided on the business rescue plan.
‘At the moment there are more questions than answers. We cannot make any assumptions and need to be able to investigate the proposal in detail before making an adjudication on the credibility of the plan and availability of the funds.’
Legal representative of the other 19 players, Craig Jessop, was not available for comment, but has previously told SARugbymag.co.za that they need time to thoroughly consider the contents of the application before passing a judgement.
It’s believed that the legal teams of the players have the opportunity to file their opposing papers by the end of June.