AUDIO: Politics 'killing' the Kings
LISTEN as Southern Kings board Chairman Loyiso Dotwana talks to Jan de Koning about the censurable salary saga and the internal politics doing serious damage to the franchise.
Dotwana, in a frank interview with @rugby365com after the well-publicised delay in salary payments for April, revealed how a politically-motivated protest by prominent personalities inside the Eastern Province Rugby Union had driven former Springbok coach Nick Mallett and several potential sponsors away.
The Kings Chairman confirmed sponsors walked away after the well-documented protest against the use of the respected former Bok coach, Mallett, to assist the Kings in finding a suitable coach last year.
Political firebrand and Eastern Province Rugby Union deputy president Bantwini Matika succeeded in eliminating Mallett from the decision-making process at the Southern Kings.
It resulted in former Bok prop Robbie Kempson taking over as a caretaker coach.
However, the cost was huge and they are still feeling the pinch.
It appears the feelings of animosity between the Kings board and the EPRU are not subsiding.
Dotwana claimed the Eastern Province Rugby Union, a 25 percent equity shareholder, meddled in the Kings’ financial arrangements with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality.
“We are two separate entities,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “It was brought to my attention by officials in the Metro that the EPRU had gone to them and stated they had problems with the Kings.
“The first [complaint] was that the Kings promised to give the EPRU cash, and that did not happen.
“The second [problem] was that all the strategic decisions by the Kings were taken without their [EPRU] input.”
He pointed out that the EPRU has been excluded from board meeting because they have failed to nominate two members to sit on the board, as they were required in terms of the memorandum of incorporation.
“We don’t understand why there is an issue around those strategic decisions. Are they expecting them to be taken outside of the board?
“All strategic decisions in any company are taken by a board.”
A meeting is pencilled for next week Tuesday, where the rivalling factions will attempt to resolve their issues.
Dotwana added that they are getting funding in several ways.
The first is the broadcast money from SA Rugby, which is subject to an outstanding loan of more than ZAR40-million – a legacy from when the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World took ownership of the franchise last year.
Other sources of funding for the Kings include a sponsorship, money from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality and the provincial government.
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He admitted that, as businessmen, the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World are not providing any funding.
“The idea was for us to secure funding from a number of sources,” he told @rugby365com.
“However, with the relationship we have with the EPRU it is difficult to secure the funding we require.”
He added that there is an issue between them and SA Rugby around the TV money.
“When we took over the team, there was a loan of just over ZAR40-million in favour of SA Rugby. That loan was to be paid back over an extended period.
“However, as a result of the problems we had with Eastern Province Rugby Union – [including] the well-documented rant around Nick Mallett – we are struggling to secure funding.
“That [Mallett] incident derailed negotiations we had with corporate sponsors in and around this region, because it became a political issue.
“The sponsors did not want to be part of the political issues around rugby and they walked away.”
He was adamant that the Kings are still ‘financially sound’, despite the ongoing boardroom issues.
He said the money for next month’s salaries are already in the bank, so there won’t be a repeat of this past week’s drama.