Salary delays hit Kings

Kings players are still waiting on their April salaries after a failure to process the money in time for the standard payment on the 25th of the month.

Kings players got an early taste of the financial struggles that lie ahead for the rugby industry, which is bracing itself for salary cuts from next month due to the coronavirus-enforced suspension of the rugby season, when the payment of their salaries was delayed this week.

Usually the Pro14 franchise’s players get paid on the 25th of the month, but Friday came and went without the money reflecting in their bank accounts.

Instead of their remuneration, they got a promissory letter from Kings chairman Loyiso Dotwana on Saturday informing them that they would be paid on Thursday, after the organisation had ‘experienced unforeseen circumstances during the past two weeks’.

Strangely enough, Dotwana said the Kings are actually supposed to be paid at the end of the month, according to their contracts. But payroll had apparently created a precedent by paying out on the 25th.

Dotwana blamed the delay on the Kings not receiving its customary funding from the local Metro – who with SA Rugby, sponsors Isuzu and the Eastern Cape Government are the franchise’s financial backers – after it failed to process the money in time thanks to a coronavirus-related shutdown.

‘The Metro funding has been confirmed and was to be received early this week,’ said Dotwana in the letter. ‘I have been guaranteed payment will be made on Tuesday, following which salary payments will be made.’

The Kings’ concerns about whether they could actually pay the salaries is reflected by the fact that Dotwana admitted that and his deputy chairman Rory Stear had had discussions with MyPlayers representatives and their own players’ spokesman Schalk Ferreira before sending out the letter, which could be read to hint at the clerical error being more serious than just that.

‘I have given them my assurance that there is no need for concern, I am confident your salaries will be paid by Thursday latest,’ concluded Dotwana.

Having already gone through a situation in which the Kings have failed to pay players’ salaries before, the franchise’s players will be hoping that this isn’t a case of de ja vu, what with the rugby industry having taken a decision to take pay cuts for the rest of the year to cushion the blow of the expected financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic stopping all sport from being played.