In an interview with CRAIG LEWIS, MVM consortium member Michael Yormark discusses the partnership with the Sharks and their bold plans for on and off the field.
*Ed’s note: Yormark is the president of Roc Nation Sports International, which aims to ‘assist with the global expansion of the Sharks brand’.
**Part 2 of this Q&A will be published on Sunday, and include the talk of Siya Kolisi joining the Sharks, the reasons for investing and the commercial elements of the partnership.
What are your thoughts on the potential that exists for the Sharks now that this deal has been closed?
‘It is a tremendous opportunity. We are super excited. We think Durban is a great community and the Sharks are a great club. We love their management team. Eduard [Coetzee] their CEO is terrific, he is an out-the-box thinker and a visionary. We just want to come in and assist in any way we possibly can to make the Sharks the premier club in all of rugby, not just in South Africa, but in the world.
‘We believe that we can do that. We believe that the foundation exists where we can help to build this brand, make it iconic, make it global and create something that players, fans and sponsors and, most importantly, the community would be super proud of.’
How do you foresee building the brand of the Sharks?
‘We have a lot of different ideas. We first need to make sure that we are the premier rugby brand in South Africa. I think fans, the sponsors and the community can anticipate to see some different things, moving forward. We want to create an incredible product on the field, but also off the field. We want to create one of the most unique entertainment experiences for fans, not only in South Africa, but around the world.
‘We obviously want the Sharks to continue to be culturally relevant, but we want people from around the world to connect with the brand as well. We are developing our strategy for that right now, but we need to tell the story of the Sharks. We need people to understand what the Sharks stand for.
‘Most importantly, the club has got to win. We have to be able to go out and recruit the best players and have the best players in the world represent the Sharks, on and off the field. That’s a commitment this group has made. We understand that it will require investment and we are willing to make that investment because we believe that it will pay dividends in the future.
‘We have had lots of conversations with Eduard, lots of conversations with their current owners to understand what the challenges are, what the opportunities are and what they need from a resources standpoint to take it to the next level. We are committed to doing that.’
Speaking of possible player recruitment, someone like Cheslin Kolbe is a Roc Nation representative. Is he someone you’d want to bring to the Sharks?
‘Cheslin is under contract right now. He has got this season and two more years left at Toulouse. Any iconic player who grows up in South Africa should want to play at the Sharks. That being said, Cheslin is under contact and he is not somebody that we have talked about, discussed, because we respect the fact that he is playing in France, incredibly well and that is his home right now.
‘With that said, our goal is to sign the best players in the world – when they become available. But we have to respect the relationships that certain players have with their clubs. We are never going to be an organisation that is going to do anything unprofessionally. We are going to do things the right way.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images