Sharks chairman Stephen Saad says the franchise has a plan in place to ‘break even’ by 2019. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
There have been ongoing whispers in various circles suggesting that the Sharks have run into financial trouble in recent times, which was exacerbated when the Sharks failed to produce their financial statements at the latest annual general meeting.
Clubs have also reportedly failed to receive part of their annual grants due to ‘financial constraints’, while former CEO Brian van Zyl publicly aired his view that the Sharks had incurred substantial losses over the last few years.
On Wednesday, Gary Teichmann was unveiled as the Sharks’ new CEO to succeed John Smit, and at a press conference in Durban, Saad sought to clarify reports around the Sharks’ financial position.
‘I read there has been a decline in revenue under John Smit, but I can say that we’ve had an incline in revenue base, and it’s never been higher,' he insisted. 'We’ve had massive increases in sponsorship, while John has also patched up a fractured relationship with the city.
‘It’s also important to consider that in December 2013, the rand-dollar exchange was eight to one, and today it’s over 14. Our player base face offers in euros and yen, and so there is very real pressure on player salaries. We can cry and say we only have X million, or you can work smarter. We’ve had to do that, and we’ve looked at our youth and development programmes.
'As a business we have to look at how we can move forward successfully, and we have a plan to break even and above by 2019. And when we look at our 2016 year, we’ll always aspire to break even, but realistically, we wouldn't expect our losses to be more than four or five million rand. So, it’s not that we’re financially unstable and are losing hundreds of millions of rand, but we are working towards a viable financial plan.’
The Sharks have also recently received a cash boost, with SuperSport buying another 9% of the KZNRU's shares in the Sharks (Pty) Ltd company, enabling certain debts and deficits to be addressed.
‘In terms of funding and financing, the Sharks have accumulated losses since 2008, and we have battled to reverse those losses over that period,’ Saad admitted. ‘But we are fortunate that we have an unbelievable shareholder in SuperSport, they’ve helped recapitalise the Sharks, and we will get an injection of some R40-million.’
The Sharks will also be hoping that the business acumen of Teichmann, who has successfully run his own company for a number of years, will serve as an additional boost.
‘Gary has a fantastic financial track record,’ Saad commented. ‘When I spoke to him about the contract and salary, he said it wasn’t about the money. It was about the passion and love, and doing this to put the Sharks back where they belong.’
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