WPRFU's moment of truth
OPINION: For those who are superstitious, the date is not a good omen – Friday the 13th!
It is the day that Western Province Rugby Football Union President Zelt Marais and Ebrahim Rasool, newly appointed Chairman of the board of Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd – the commercial arm of WPRFU – finally come face-to-face with Marco V Masotti (the South African-born-and-bred American lawyer) and his consortium MVM Holdings.
At the heart of their get-together is the proposal that MVM obtains a controlling (51 percent) share of WPPR.
Marais and Rasool have both punted the meeting with Masotti as key to the possible approval of the deal.
The convocation in Cape Town will be when both parties must put their cards on the table.
After months of bull sessions that made most parliamentary debates look like a Sunday school picnic – with an abundance of prevarications and ambiguities thrown in for good measure – there will no longer be any place to hide.
Marais and Rasool can no longer hide behind nebulousness and obfuscation.
To quote Rasool: “We want it to be a decisive meeting – [a meeting] which says yea or nay.”
They will, by now, have all the documents they required.
In return, they should have provided the required corroboration of their status – including financials.
If they did not, it could be an uncomfortable meeting.
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It will be hard for any investor/equity partner to get a deal across the line without knowing the real numbers.
For months now Marais has shifted the goalposts – delaying tactics that may well be because the WPRFU boss is having second thoughts.
On Friday he has to say ‘yea or nay’.
It has been clear – based on their public utterances – that Marais and Rasool do not want to hand over control of the company (WPPR) to MVM.
Given that Marais, through discarded former board member André van der Veen, has reached out to Masotti, the ball is in his court.
Of course, WPPR (and with it the brands – Stormers and Western Province) is an attractive trademark on the international sporting stage.
However, the equity partner will only be interested if he can control who has access to the proverbial ‘cookie jar’.
There is no doubt that much of the grapevine dispatches were the result of a desire by some to find positions on a board, rather than do what is best for the union and its clubs.
It is the potential remuneration that comes with these lofty positions that may well be clouding people’s judgements.
No doubt it all will come to a head on Friday.
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