Wakefield: WP bosses must shoulder blame for downfall

Former Western Province Rugby Union president Thelo Wakefield says the union’s leaders have to accept responsibility for its downfall into administration.

Two weeks ago, SA Rugby assumed administrative control of the WPRU, which controls 100% of their commercial arm, Western Province Professional Rugby.

Experienced former SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer was appointed as an administrator and has assumed oversight of the union’s affairs.

The decision was made as Western Province were reportedly on the brink of a financial collapse, facing liquidation and forfeiting their assets worth millions.

Zelt Marais, who succeeded Wakefield as WPRU president,  has been accused of deliberately stalling potential equity deals – with MVM Holdings, who have invested in the Sharks, and an unnamed Hong Kong-based firm – for the past six months and of centralising all power in his position.

Wakefield told Sport24 that poor decision-making and a lack of leadership have led the WPRU to this point.

“I’m sorry that these things happened, because SA Rugby never created this situation. The leaders of the union must take full responsibility for not driving Western Province in the right direction,” Wakefield told Sport24.

“Professional rugby is a tough cookie. If you don’t have an equity partner that can recapitalise the company if there’s any trouble, and you sit with a union that’s a 100% shareholder but is bankrupt and has no money, how on earth can they recapitalise the company when it runs into trouble?

“In the past, WPRFU was the majority shareholder, with Remgro being the majority shareholder, but we could recapitalise the company because the union was in a strong financial position to do so.

“They spend more money now on legal fees than rugby itself. Bad decision-making and lack of cooperation brought this mighty union to where it is now.”


Photo: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack