PRO14 Rugby had a winning week last week with confirmation of dates to restart and complete this season and to start the next season cast in as much stone as is possible in a fluid health environment.
Yesterday it had to hold its breath though as the Isuzu Southern Kings, one of the ‘expansion’ teams in South Africa had to be taken over by SA Rugby.
The national union has has assumed management control of the club, and taken back a 74% shareholding in the organisation.
That does though give certainty that the club can continue and will participate in the tournaments as they come back to life.
Players, management, office staff, sponsors and provincial and metropolitan authorities have been advised of the latest developments. All staff and players of the franchise have been retained.
“I cannot stress enough how reluctant we are to resume control of the Isuzu Southern Kings,” said Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.
“It is our last resort and we are keen to explore ways to return to the shareholding to another’s hands, in conjunction with the EPRU, the minority shareholder, who have given the required approval to the decision.
“The next step is to appoint a new board to oversee the franchise’s affairs and ensure the team is match ready for when we are able to resume playing.”
SA Rugby has appointed a finance team to work with franchise administrators on ensuring salary payments are made and business needs are addressed.
Mr Alexander said the decision was taken following the failure of the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World (GRC) to meet its financial commitments relating to the acquisition of the shareholding.
The decision ensures the Isuzu Southern Kings will participate in Guinness PRO14 and/or any other competitions that may be established within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
“This was a decision we took with extreme reluctance and after allowing GRC considerable lee-way in which to meet the contractual commitments they made on the acquisition of the shareholding,” said Mr Alexander.
“We appreciated the vision and intentions of the GRC but unfortunately we are operating in an unforgiving business environment.”
A decision on whether an administrator needed to be additionally appointed would be taken in the coming days.