‘Sharks are financially stable’

Sharks CEO John Smit has hit back at Brian van Zyl following his predecessor's claims that the union has dire financial problems.

Van Zyl recently wrote a letter to The Mercury, in which he said the Sharks had 'deteriorated from a sound financial position to that approximating insolvency' since Smit's appointment in 2013.

Van Zyl said the Sharks, in his last executive year, 'had posted a profit of R14-million before dividends were paid'. He then claimed that 'during 2013 and 2014 substantial losses resulted in an accumulated deficit of more than R40-million' and said he suspected 'that a loss of another R20-million has been incurred since'.

Smit responded to Van Zyl's claims during an interview with the Daily News.

'Our financial position is stable,' he said. 'Player salaries have risen dramatically in recent years amid the talent drain to Europe and Japan.

'However, at the Sharks, we have managed our costs effectively and our shareholders have been a tower of strength, agreeing to capitalise the company appropriately.

'Brian’s suggestion that these financial challenges suddenly began when he left the organisation in 2013 is contradicted by the audited financial statements. The previous losses and the lack of governance are well documented.

'This is of little consequence now. What does matter is that Sharks supporters can rest assured the organisation has been managed effectively and responsibly over the past three years, we are approaching break-even in 2016 and our future is bright.'

Smit, who will step down as Sharks CEO at the end of the season, referred to Van Zyl's letter as a 'cheap shot' and 'personal attack'. He said he had tried to phone Van Zyl directly to resolve any issues, but that his predecessor had not returned his calls.

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Brian van Zyl's letter

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Simon Borchardt