WPRFU on the brink ... again
While the amateur clubs are playing petty politics, the Western Province Rugby Football Union and its professional arm, WP Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd, are teetering on the brink of another financial crisis.
Ebrahim Rasool, Chairman of the board of WPPR, revealed to @rugby365com that the possibility of ‘business rescue’ is an option on the table for the cash-strapped franchise.
Rasool made the startling revelation on the day that a crucial WPRFU general council meeting will take place.
One of the main items on the agenda for Monday’s meeting is an update of the union’s property situation – with all properties currently bonded to the Flyt/Dream World group and tied up in legal disputes.
However, the removal of Rasool as Chairman of the board is almost certain to be raised.
As this website reported at the weekend, Rasool has become the target of Tygerberg – one of 90-odd clubs in the union.
The same club is also going after other Marais dissenters – the five members of the Executive Committee who made an urgent application in the Cape High court last Thursday to remove Marais from office.
The five – vice-president Ronald Bantom, Reuben Riffel, Anele Zita, Quintin Van Rooyen and Mario Williams – lost in round one of what is likely to be another protracted legal battle involving the union’s President.
Tygerberg, through Chairman Anver Titus and club secretary Stanton Lesch, denied there was a concerted effort to remove opponents of WPRFU President Zelt Marais.
Titus denied he or his club ‘canvassed’ other clubs at the weekend.
“I do not have time to visit other clubs, nor does our club encourage other clubs to write letters to the Union,” Titus told @rugby365com.
“Our club is a custodian of the Constitution of WPRFU,” he added.
“We hold the executive to account and do not believe in factions.”
Lesch also denied the letter he penned to Marais last week was about “personalities”.
“We will never entertain ‘slate politics’,” he responded to this website.
However, at least one club told @rugby365com that ‘members of the Tygerberg executive’ had visited them last week and ‘encouraged’ them to write letters in support.
This website has two letters from different clubs that are carbon copies of the original Lesch-penned Tygerberg letters.
While all this is playing itself out, Rasool revealed that the board of WPPR will hold a special meeting at which auditors will address them on a very crucial matter.
Rasool also stood firm in the face of claims that the board of WPPR just want ‘hand-outs’ and are not bringing in any money or anything to the table.
“As the board [of WPPR] we have secured ZAR50-million in investments,” he said, hitting back at those who are hard at work in trying to remove him from office.
He also accused the union President, Marais, of sitting on a potential equity deal for the past six months.
“In April already I introduced the shareholder, President Zelt Marais, to an investor from Hong Kong,” Rasool told @rugby365com.
“He [the investor] owns rugby teams and is dedicated to sports investment. He wants to have equity in WPRFU.”
Rasool said it took two months before any discussion happened between Marais and the investor and again he had to facilitate it.
“It also took some time to get to a non-disclosure agreement, yet till this day – nearly six months later – no definitive negotiations have taken place,” Rasool said.
“I would happily ‘extend’ my mandate again to ensure WPRFU does not lose this equity investor …. again – as was the case with MVM.
“The same, with my involvement in the attempted settlement with Flyt/Dream World and the agreement with Staytus.
“I would rather be crucified for doing the right thing in the wrong way, rather than doing nothing in the face of a crisis.
“Here is a potential ZAR100-million-plus investment that has been waiting for six months for the shareholder, and Mr Marais to act, but without any joy.”
The WPPR Chairman also revealed that Monday’s board meeting will discuss the potential need for a ‘business rescue’ exercise in the face of a growing financial crisis in the franchise.
Marais, as WPRFU President, is a member of the WPPR board.
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“I have invited the auditors to come and address us on a very crucial matter,” he told @rugby365com.
He said there are three issues the auditors will talk to them about.
The first is whether Western Province (WPRFU/WPPR) is still a going concern.
“This is absolutely crucial in terms of sponsors going forward and whether the auditors can sign off the books,” Rasool said.
“The second question is whether the Directors of WPPR board are in danger of trading recklessly, knowing we may not be a going concern, knowing the financial difficulties we face and knowing there are growing creditors.”
He added that a few months ago independent director Makkie Isaacs resigned as a board member, because he didn’t believe the WPPR was a going concern and all the directors could be held personally liable.
“We want the auditors to tell us whether this is a time to put WPPR under business rescue.”
Rasool said he will implore the meeting on Monday to wait until later this week, September 30, when “a few things can be clarified”, before taking a very difficult and complex step of putting WPPR under business rescue.
“We can avoid business rescue if, by some miracle, we save the Flyt/Dream World settlement and the Staytus deal,” the Chairman said.
“Then we can begin to get our properties back and start having the value of the collateral we can get.
“The second way to avert business rescue is if WPRFU can underwrite the company and show we have enough cash flow for the next six months.
“We must give them [WPRFU] the chance to present it to us.”
Rasool added that another option – which is also better than business rescue – is that SARU places WPRFU as a whole under administration and ensure the right decisions are made to save WP rugby.
“This is going to be a very important week for the future of WP rugby,” he added.
Also worth reading
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WPRFU court saga: It is a stalemate
Zelt clings to power in chaotic meeting
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Rasool fires back after Zelt’s ‘war room’ flop
Zelt recruits World Cup-winning Bok for his ‘war room’
SARU ultimatum has WPRFU scrambling
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