The financial woes surrounding the Southern Kings have reached a point where the franchise has been forced into liquidation.
The franchise cited its financial position as one of the main factors from its withdrawal from the recently launched domestic rugby competition.
Southern Kings liquidated
The Kings have projected no profits for the upcoming season and, as a result, the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby have collectively decided to liquidate the franchise.
“The hard fact is that the Kings are insolvent, with significant debts and zero assets and it would have been reckless of the board to continue to trade,” Andre Rademan, chairman of the board, said. “Its continuation would have required loans from the EPRU and loans additional to the R45m that the company already owes to SA Rugby. “In the absence of any rugby in 2020, and without any guarantees as to income prospects for 2021, it would have been financially irresponsible of the shareholders to have pumped in further funding.”
From black rugby’s great hope to a big ‘nope’
The Southern Kings were launched in 2009 with a view of advancing rugby in the Eastern Cape, the province considered to be the stronghold of the game among the black community.
The franchise comprised of members from both the Eastern Cape and parts of the Western Cape, and made its first Super Ruby appearance in 2013.
The first reports of financial woes emerged after their debut season in the southern hemisphere’s premier franchise competition, with players not being paid in 2015.
A major sponsorship appeared to be a beacon of light in 2017, with motoring giant Isuzu coming on board.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said the Kings’ financial failure has marred a promising project.
“The debts the organisation has accumulated over the years are considerable and in the current environment the only certainty was that they would grow, he said. “The membership of SA Rugby has invested heavily in the Kings project but it is now time for a re-examination of what is the appropriate and sustainable pathway for rugby in the Eastern Province.”
Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president
The Kings have also recorded some success, having propelled the careers of World Cup winners such as Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am.