|Ongoing situation at the Eastern Province Rugby Union
The Eastern Province Rugby Union has noted that there have been a number of issues raised in the media over the past few days, and acknowledge and apologise for our lack of proper communication on these issues.
With regards to outstanding payments of players and staff
EP Rugby can confirm that, as of close of business today neither staff nor players have yet been paid their October salaries. This is due to current cash flow problems being experienced at the union that we are working tirelessly to address.
These cash flow problems can be attributed to significant delays in the release of funds from a sponsorship deal that was originally announced by EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson. As stated previously, Mr Watson is currently in Australia to meet with sponsors to try and expedite the release of these funds.
The executive is extremely aware of the challenges that late payment creates, as we all have bills to pay and debit orders that come off our accounts at a certain time each month.
We are also keeping SA Rugby informed of the situation as it unfolds and are engaging with them and our other stakeholders.
With regards to players leaving
We are aware that SARPA have advised players that EP Rugby is in breach of contract, due to the non payment of salaries by the 10th of November, and have advised that players can therefore terminate their contracts. They have also advised those who do not have alternative employment offers that they are not obligated to return to training on Monday next week.
We have noted with concern that a lot of speculation has taken place over players that are leaving, with a number of names bandied about.
EP Rugby can confirm that Tim Whitehead and Lizo Gqoboka are the only two players, to date, that have given notice of their intent to leave the Kings.
With regards to the sponsorship deal
There has been a lot of speculation and scepticism in the media with regards to the sponsorship deal that Mr Watson announced earlier in the year.
As has been communicated before, negotiations relating to sponsorships of this nature are extremely complex and extremely confidential, and the union has erred on the side of caution and have not said anything further in order to preserve the integrity of the deal.
We understand how this has subsequently resulted in confusion and scepticism in the media and among our supporters, and for this we wish to apologise.
As stated above, Mr Watson is currently in Australia to meet with sponsors to try and expedite the release of these funds.
Mr Watson has indicated that he will be returning to Port Elizabeth early next week and a press conference will be arranged on his arrival that he may clarify the situation personally.
With regards to the Kings readiness for Super Rugby in 2016
There are a number of concerns relating to whether the Kings, with just over three months to go before the first Super Rugby fixture, will be in a position to compete competitively based on the current circumstances.
EP Rugby has been preparing for our re-entry into the Super Rugby arena since 2014. We have been engaging with SA Rugby and other stakeholders on an ongoing basis throughout our current financial situation, and are confident that, no matter the outcome of the next few weeks, we will be in a position to field a competitive team in next year’s competition.
We will continue to keep the media updated of all significant developments going forward.