Newlands: How the fans really feel
OPINION: The facts of the Newlands saga are well documented. However, what do the fans, the broader public, think about it all?
Angus Opperman, a self-proclaimed ‘massive’ fan, wrote an open letter to Western Province Rugby Football Union President Zelt Marais.
He did not pull any punches!
Dear Mr Marais.
I know exactly what I want to say, but I’m not quite sure how to say it. However, here goes.
Back in 2016, when all the trouble started with the Aerios claim and the liquidation took place, I and many other fans were very worried about the road ahead for the WPRFU. Many things happened between then – with a Currie Cup win in 2017 and final in 2018 – which plastered over the cracks that we are now starting to see re-emerge as even bigger rifts.
When you ‘succeeded’ Thelo Wakefield, I was cautiously optimistic. I realized that you had inherited a mess, but I honestly thought that you had the intellect, integrity, drive and, more importantly, the leadership to make the right decisions to ensure that the future of Western Province Rugby will look bright again.
Unfortunately, what looked like a dark road ahead turned into a dark pit with no light in sight.
We as fans eventually, with heavy hearts, had to make peace with the fact that we had to say goodbye to our beloved Newlands stadium, if it meant that our rugby team will still continue to exist and we could have enough financial resources to keep our best players and even sign a few more where we lack depth in certain positions. You had Investec lined up and turned on them, now Flyt property group are on the books and you are turning on them (also), because you feel that the properties were undervalued, after you stated it was the “deal of the century”. A friend of mine made a great example, saying “if I sell my car on Gumtree, I can’t go back to the guy and say I want it back because I feel it is worth more”. You are burning bridges left, right and centre, Mr Marais, and people will think thrice before doing business with you and the WPRFU (in the future).
Andre van der Veen was tasked to find an investor, and he did. Despite the fact that you did not renew his tenure, you dragged on with the MVM holdings deal until they decided they had enough and went to the Sharks, who are now also signed with Roc Nation sports. That could have been us, you know. It feels like knowing you had a chance with the girl of your dreams but you still messed around and now she dates your biggest rival. That is how it feels to me as a fan. Ebrahim Rasool claimed that you did not want to sell the family jewels, but if Flyt gets their damage claims with all the properties of the WPRFU signed off as security, are you telling me you’d rather give the family jewels away?
You did not want to concede control, you want an investor with a minority share for you to still bang the drums and do things your way, which, let’s be honest, has not worked at all. We are at a stage where we will lose the bulk of our top players, going into a new European competition with clouds of uncertainty hanging over everyone involved at the union. The senior guys begged you to take the deal and you didn’t respect their wishes. If my boss gave me the finger like that, I would also gladly pack up and leave to work for the opposition, as many former WP players already have and even more so in future will as well.
I don’t know much about business, finances, etc. I do know that we as a union were at a crossroad and we took the wrong path. The question is, Mr President: What will you do to fix this mess?
The side’s performance in the semifinal was a result of what is happening at the top. I have worked in a toxic and unhappy environment before. You try your best, but you simply cannot seem to ever be at your best. I feel for the players and coaches.
There’s currently talks about a deal out of Dubai to keep the cream of the crop in the Cape. With the union’s track record as of late, seeing is believing. I’d also be reluctant to put pen to paper before I’m 100 percent sure that there’s money available for my salary as the players reportedly have not done as of yet.
It’s bad enough we lost a promising prospect such as my friend Jaco Coetzee. I get the feeling he’s leaving with a heavy heart after our last conversation, when his move to Bath Rugby was announced.
I ask you one thing – as a fan with over 20 WP and Stormers jerseys and many other merchandise items, who has watched over 80 games at Newlands and never thought twice about spending his hard-earned cash on merchandise, tickets and faithful club memberships to support his team in every way possible.
Please save our union and stop messing things up, we are now the Newlands GATVOL, not the faithful!
Also worth reading …
Newlands: The post-season posers
WP’s loss is Sharks’ gain
REVEALED: WPRFU’s new benefactor
Second partner chooses Sharks over WP
Where will the money come from?
The big ‘split’ at Newlands
Masotti explains his exit
Flyt bomb drops on Newlands saga
Change of attorneys at heart of WPRFU about-turn
‘Miscommunication’ blamed for statement
Mystery of the missing sentence