• SA Rugby engaging with Kings, EPRU

    Another D-Day looms for the Kings as speculation mounts that SA Rugby will need to step in again to assert administrative control over the embattled franchise, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    Trouble has appeared to be brewing in Eastern Cape rugby circles for some time, where the Kings and the EP Rugby Union have increasingly been at loggerheads.

    According to reports from the Herald, tensions have reached boiling point over the manner in which the franchise is being run, with a second scheduled shareholders’ meeting not taking place at the last minute on Thursday.

    This followed news that Kings business consortium members Kenny Govender and Gary Markson had resigned.

    It’s all a far cry from the excitement back in March 2019, when the Southern Kings franchise appeared to have received a massive boost after it sold a 74% stake to so-called ‘Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World’, which took over primary funding of the franchise.

    Yet, it has certainly not been all plain sailing since then, both on and off the field.

    Most recently, the Kings have been beset by cash-flow problems, resulting in late salary payments in April, and there were growing concerns that there could be similar problems in upcoming months.

    Meanwhile, an extra funding payment from the local metro of a reported R6 million to the Kings, to solve the cash flow crisis, is believed to be just one of the issues of discrepancy between the Kings franchise and the EPRU.

    Before the takeover from the Kings’ new business consortium, SA Rugby had needed to step in back in 2016 to assume administrative control of the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) after ongoing issues and financial struggles.

    As highlighted by Sport24, that could now be a step that will have to be taken once again, while a spokesperson confirmed to SARugbymag.co.za on Saturday that important discussions were well under way.

    ‘SA Rugby is engaging with the Isuzu Southern Kings and its minority shareholder, the Eastern Province Rugby Union, to address the challenges currently faced by the board.’

    Kings chairman Loyiso Dotwana and EPRU president Andre Rademan both refused to comment at this time and directed queries to SA Rugby, but it is understood that Monday could bring more answers.

    If a meeting could finally go ahead at the start of the week, it may see SA Rugby left with little other option but to announce another administrative takeover.

    Just earlier this month, though, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux commented on the worrisome situation at the Kings and reiterated that the governing body could only intervene in clear-cut circumstances.

    ‘They need to sort their house out for themselves. If they are unable to sort that out in a way that is acceptable to everybody, I’m pretty sure they will be knocking on our doors asking for assistance in smoothing over that process.

    ‘There’s this common misconception that we can actually just jump in at any time into any union. But our unions are completely autonomous, in actual fact, they own us.

    ‘We all work for the unions. Within our constitution there’s a section that determines when we can get into that union and that normally can only happen when they’ve transgressed any of those clauses – effectively when they are bankrupt, can’t pay bills, not paying Sars or not paying players. That’s the only time we can intervene.’

    Now it remains to be seen if that time has come. Once again.

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    Craig Lewis