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Sat 4 Jul 2020 | 09:45

Newlands: Fear-mongering or real concerns?

Newlands: Fear-mongering or real concerns?
Sat 4 Jul 2020 | 09:45
Newlands: Fear-mongering or real concerns?

REACTION: Making sense of the Newlands Stadium developments in recent weeks has been difficult enough, without having to take into consideration the myriad of sideshows.

It has gotten worse since the Western Province Rugby Football Union clubs voted, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of Flyt Property Group and against Investec earlier this week.

The new agreement, between the WPRFU and the Flyt Property Group, sparked a social media ‘war of words’ between various groups.

This deal was approved at a Special General Council Meeting this past Tuesday.

Marais convinced the SGC to approve Flyt Property as a ‘development partner’ – on a 50/50 basis – for the Newlands Stadium Grounds and also that of Brookside in Claremont.

There is also ZAR112-million – a loan from Dream World Investments 401 (Pty) Ltd, a company in the Flyt group – in the attorneys’ trust account and that will be used to repay the debts owed to Remgro (ZAR58-million) and Investec (ZAR50-million).

The announcement this week caused a firestorm in both the mainstream and social media.

Amongst the multifarious reports is one of a ‘johnny-come-lately’ attempt by Nehawu Investment Holdings to place a bid on the Newlands development.

NIH says it serves as the ‘investment firm’ for the largest public sector union, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union.

NEHAWU’s bid arrived in the form of a short letter, dated June 27 – just three days before the all-important vote to approve the Flyt deal.

The NEHAWU dispatch included no details, which explains why the WPRFU brains trust could not take it seriously.

WPRFU President Zelt Marais said the NEHAWU billet-doux was received far too late.

“There was also no financial information in it,” Marais told @rugby365com in reaction to the reports that WPRFU ignored NEHAWU’s proposal.

“The WPRFU was up against the Remgro and Investec deadlines of June 30, and we had spent the greater part of the month of June investigating and then negotiating with a new investor-partner, Flyt.

“By then Flyt had already put, and or were arranging, financial guarantees in place to satisfy the Remgro and Investec debt.

“We just weren’t able to start a new leg of discussions as we were at such an advanced stage.”

NEHAWU letter

The other development that caused a stir was the formation of a new company – between the WPRFU and Flyt Property Group – called Brookside DevCo.

Brookside will also be developed into mixed-use apartments.

This deal will give the WPRFU access to an estimated ZAR40-million in cash, plus 50 percent of development profits down the line.

It was suggested that the Villagers Rugby Club was about to lose their Brookside home.

Concerns from the club centred around a previous agreement of the upgrading of the main field to an artificial pitch.

However, Anton Chait – the former Villagers President who was at the heart of the club’s negotiations with WPRFU – took to social media to allay fears of the outfit losing their home ground.

“Had a positive and lengthy discussion with the President [Zelt Marais] today [Thursday],” Chait said on Twitter.

“He has assured me our tenancy is secure and apologized for not keeping the club in the loop due to time pressure constraints.”

Apart from these two issues, there was a big public spat on social media and there is sure to be many other, unfounded, commentaries in the mainstream and social media platforms.

Obviously there are some legitimate concerns about Flyt’s ability to pull the development off and about WPRFU’s cash flow issues.

However, it remains difficult to distinguish between what is just agenda-driven fear-mongering and real, fact-based concerns.


Also worth reading …

Marais wins the day in Newlands stand-off
Newlands: The tangled web
All the facts about Remgro, Investec & Flyt
Is SA Rugby the bully here?
Aerios: Why it works at Sharks & failed at WP
The decline in ‘value’ of Newlands
SA Rugby taken to court in Newlands saga
Newlands: The grand old dame is no more

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Newlands: Fear-mongering or real concerns? - south africa | Rugby365