The struggles of embattled EP Kings players have been highlighted in court papers related to the liquidation proceedings that are set to be heard in the Port Elizabeth High Court on 10 March.
The South African Rugby Players’ Association first brought an application of liquidation against EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd at the end of January, while another group of 18 players, represented by lawyer Craig Jessop, then confirmed they'd be following suit.
According to The Herald, the total of the joint claim will hold EP Rugby liable for over R18-million that is owed in terms of salary arrears and other damages.
Sarpa is representing the following players in the court application: Juan-Claude Roos, Kevin Kaba, Elgar Watts, Kevin Luiters, Shaun McDonald, Eital Bredenkamp, Shane Gates, Tom Botha, Schalk Ferreira, Sylvian Mahuza, Thembelani Bholi, Cornell Hess, Mthetheleli Fuzani, Siyanda Grey, CJ Velleman, Steven Sykes, Stefan Willemse and Riaan Esterhuizen.
In an affidavit, Sarpa CEO Piet Heymans said players had been left in dire financial straits after failing to receive salary payments as far back as September, with some unable to pay rent or put food on the table.
‘The situation has become so dire we have had to make funds available from our hardship fund to cover the players’ basic needs.’
Jessop, who is representing players Michael van Vuuren, Tim Whitehead, James Hilterbrand, Ronnie Cook, Mark Richard, Carel Greeff, Jacques Engelbrecht, David Bulbring, Scott van Breda, Charles Marais, Simon Kerrod, Michael Berdardt, Gary van Aswegen, SP Marais, Jurgen Visser, Dwayne Kelly, Martin Ferreira and JP du Plessis, said EP Rugby was factually insolvent.
‘Over an extended period of time, [EPRU president Cheeky Watson] publicly proclaimed that one of the largest sponsorships in rugby was soon to be secured by the [Kings], which would put an end to all financial difficulties. Despite such promises being made, the likelihood of the [Kings] obtaining any sponsorship which would be sufficient even to pay arrears is so remote it must be rejected.’
Watson is widely expected to face a vote of no confidence when he will have to present a more detailed report on EP Rugby's financial affairs at a special meeting at the end of February.
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