Thursday, December 10, 2020 will go down as a bad day in the annals of WP Rugby.
A very, very bad day.
It’s difficult to know where to even start when attempting to unpack the most damaging news during the 24 hours.
But let’s give it a bash.
IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES, MONEY IS GOLD
American consortium MVM Holdings confirmed that it would cease negotiations with WP Rugby and would not be investing $6 million into the union.
In these uncertain Covid-19 times, money is gold and most welcome from wherever it originates.
That cash – now under R100 million after the rand’s strengthening of late – would’ve seen MVM Holdings take a 51% controlling stake in WP Rugby’s business arm.
It also would’ve helped WP Rugby alleviate its dire financial situation and assist in keeping key players in the Cape (more on that later).
MVM Holdings issued a very friendly statement under the circumstances, mentioning stuff like being “enormously grateful” for WP Rugby’s time and even went as far as to label the union as a “professional franchise”.
This even after reports WP Rugby president Zelt Marais charged them R150 000 for a tour of the Cape Town Stadium!
With their dealings with WP now consigned to the scrapheap, in a bit of a slap in the face, MVM Holdings turned their attentions to rivals, the Sharks.
It must be stressed that these new talks are still in their infancy and there’s no knowing how they will pan out.
But it does lead to another potential problem for WP.
MVM Holdings member Michael Yormark is also the president of Roc Nation International’s sports division.
WP and Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi is a high-profile representative of Roc Nation.
Doing the sums and factoring in basic common sense, there’s no way Roc Nation would want to invest in the Sharks while their star client plays for the opposition.
SIYA KOLISI’S REPLY LEFT FANS NONE THE WISER
WP coach John Dobson said this week that he had a brief chat with Kolisi regarding reports of a potential move up the coast to KwaZulu-Natal.
Kolisi’s response left WP fans none the wiser to his thinking.
According to Dobson, Kolisi asked to delay discussions until after their next Currie Cup match on Friday against the Pumas at Newlands.
While a commendable thing to do in not having the distraction in the build-up to a must-win match for WP, it leaves one debating whether it’s a good – or bad – thing for Kolisi to leave.
Sharks fans on social media suggested they didn’t necessarily want Kolisi at the union.
Kolisi would be among the highest paid players on WP’s books, but thanks to the star power alone that he offers, they’d surely want to keep him.
At 29-years-old, Kolisi still has a lot of rugby ahead of him. He’s got a young family and by all accounts is settled in the Cape. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he remained a one-SA team player during his career.
WP do however appear resigned to losing promising young lock David Meihuizen to Scotland (in all likelihood).
The smart advice would be that he accepts the offer.
After all, euros are better than rands and a Scotland Test cap is better than the zero Springbok starts he’s honestly likely to earn.
Meanwhile, there’s also speculation that Damian Willemse could be heading to the Bulls, while a number of other Springboks in the WP squad are off contract after next year’s British & Irish Lions visit.
FINAL DOSE OF BAD NEWS
In the final dose of bad news – which could in fact be the worst of the lot – the Flyt Group formally lodged a claim with the WPRFU for damages.
The claim arises from the WPRFU’s repudiation and breach of the binding agreements it concluded with the Flyt Group in June of this year for the intended development of Newlands and other properties owned by the WPRFU.
In non-legal speak, the situation is a NSFW ‘bleeping’ mess.
In a nutshell, WPRFU approached the Flyt Group seeking a R112 million loan to settle its debts and to conclude a development agreement.
The Flyt Group advanced the WPRFU the money and the two parties agreed to become 50/50 partners in all benefits derived from the development of Newlands and its surrounds.
Zelt Marais went as far as to call it ‘the deal of the century’.
The process was overseen by WPRFU’s legal team at STBB and its auditors BDO.
However, it now appears the WPRFU has replaced STBB as its legal advisors and are objecting to the agreed land value in the deal – a value they themselves originally proposed!
The Flyt Group has smartly taken its own legal advice and are instituting a claim for damages.
We await the next move from either party.
As I said, a bleeeeeeping mess!