Newlands saga update: Did WP executive overplay their hand?
SPOTLIGHT: Jan de Koning shines the spotlight on what is at the heart of the latest developments in the aeonian Newlands Stadium saga.
It was all going swimmingly – the plans to redevelop the Newlands Stadium into a multi-purpose complex that will provide the Western Province Rugby Football Union with long-term and a sustainable income.
Even the move to the Cape Town Stadium, planned for 2021, had already been announced.
However, earlier this week the notorious ‘grapevine’ burst into action.
Reports of the resignation of Kevin Kiewitz as a member of the WPRFU executive committee and ostensibly also as a shareholder director of the Western Province Professional Rugby company emerged.
The ‘announcement’ was contained in a letter sent by WPRFU President Zelt Marais to the clubs.
The reason(s) have still not been formally revealed – by either Marais or Kiewitz.
However, it has not stopped ‘information’ seeping into the public domain.
Some of it can be corroborated. Some can’t.
It is obvious something significant happened at a recent meeting that triggered the developments of this week.
What could be corroborated was Kiewitz’s resignation as a member of the WPRFU executive committee.
However, there are suggestions that he is still a shareholder director of the company (WPPR).
It is also clear that the Newlands ship is sailing on stormy waters and as the many ‘shipwrecks’ can attest to, the Cape of Storms can be a treacherous place.
There are suggestions that the WPRFU could be guilty of Machiavellian behaviour in their negotiations with the banking giant Investec – who would be their partner in the redevelopment deal.
Given that they had already received an ‘advance’ as part of their partnership with the bank, attempting to introduce a ‘material new term’ – long after commercial terms had been agreed and heads of agreement had been signed – was being frowned upon.
There were also questions of whether the executive committee had a mandate from the general council to renegotiate.
It is not sure if (or when) the disagreements between the two parties will be resolved, but it is clear that the boardroom at Newlands (or whichever venue they choose for their negotiations) will be a busy place.
Further complicating matters in these murky waters are reports that there are ‘demands’ for WPRFU to repay a loan to Remgro – which started out at ZAR40-million, but with interest has ballooned to over ZAR50-million.
This (the full amount) is allegedly due by month’s end.
It means walking away from the Investec deal now is not an option for the WPRFU, as that will leave them with two amounts to repay – not just the Remgro loan, but also the Investec advance.