Costas now targets Cape Town city officials
NEWLANDS SAGA: All is fair in love and war. This certainly holds true for combative Aerios boss Costas Constantinou.
City of Cape Town officials are the latest in his firing line, in the ongoing saga involving the bankruptcy of Western Province Rugby (Pty) Ltd and the imminent sale of the Newlands stadium.
Constantinou, who is involved in a legal dispute with WP Rugby and the Western Province Rugby Union over the validity of the former's bankruptcy in 2016, has been trying to obtain information about the negotiations about the sale of the Newlands stadium on the WPRU's planned move to the Cape Town stadium.
He accused the City of Cape Town of not being as transparent as it claims to be.
"Aerios (Pty) Ltd is once again being forced to embark on litigation to obtain information to which the ratepayers of Cape Town and the supporters of Western Province Rugby are clearly entitled," Constantinou said.
Constantinou's latest battle comes in the wake of the decision by the City of Cape Town and WPRU officials to remain tight-lipped about their ongoing discussions to move Western Province from the Newlands Stadium to the Cape Town Stadium - despite indications that the discussions may have reached an advanced stage.
Last year Aerios attempted to get to the bottom of the issue by serving notices in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) on the City, the Western Province Rugby Union, the Provincial Department of Sport and the National Department of Sport.
Aerios asked the city officials and the union to provide them with documents relating to the tenders and/or sale of Newlands and the move by the union from that stadium to the Cape Town Stadium.
"The Union, which claims to pride itself on good corporate governance and accountability, responded to our notice by stating that it was not obliged to furnish the information requested because it is not a public body," Constantinou said.
"The City has also refused to provide any information at all.
"It has stated that some of the documents requested are not in its possession and that the remaining documentation is refused on the basis that making the documentation available would interfere with an unspecified 'deliberative process' within the city which relates to city policy.
"Given the recent allegations levelled by senior DA politicians against the City's Mayor and several high-ranking officials, it is surprising that the city would rather litigate than play open cards with its constituency regarding its plans for the Cape Town Stadium."
Aerios said it is legally constrained to first exhaust the city's internal appeal procedure before it can take the matter to court, resulting in further delays and costs, but Constantinou is determined to bring to light the covert negotiations which have been conducted between the city and the union.
The former company, which ran the union's commercial interests has been liquidated.
Constantinou said that if the sale of assets to Newco is set aside, the WP Rugby Pty (Newco) may have no assets left.
He feels it is unthinkable that entities will enter into an agreement with the Western Province Rugby Union with so much ongoing litigation taking place.
He asked if the City, the sponsors, investors and other stakeholders considered that they may be investing in, or partnering with an entity which may end up with nothing - if the proceedings against the former commercial entity are successful.
The Aerios boss suggested there may even be a case for suggesting that the union would be sequestrated if they don't pay back their debts, which is why they may be disguising the fact that a transaction relating to the sale of Newlands and the relocation of the Western Province Rugby Union to the Cape Town stadium, has already been concluded
It appears that the union has been looking to sell Newlands since its relations with its equity partner Remgro Sports Investments (Pty) Ltd (RSI), soured towards the end of 2017.
According to Constantinou, it is doubtful that the union will be able to pay the vast sums which it owes to RSI unless it releases its largest asset, namely the stadium.
It is also well known that the Cape Town Stadium has placed an enormous strain on the city's finances. The City will be eager to conclude a deal which will alleviate the pressure which the Stadium has placed on its resources.
In view of the embarrassing situation in which both entities find themselves and the fact that their predicaments were caused by their incumbent leadership, it is perhaps not surprising that neither the City, nor the Union, is willing to give the public insight into their respective predicament