Golden Lions Rugby Union President Kevin de Klerk has beaten off the latest media onslaught on his union with the same efficiency that saw his team secure Currie Cup glory last year.
De Klerk, speaking to this website in an exclusive interview on Monday, dismissed reports that his union is facing liquidation.
Following rumours on social media platforms, weekend newspaper reports suggested the GLRU’s former equity partners, the Guma TAC Group, may initiate steps to have the Currie Cup champions liquidated.
This follows similar unsubstantiated reports – both in the social, electronic and print media – late last year that the union was unable to pay its players.
The latest rumours – believed to have originated from sources within the Guma group – suggested that the GLRU’s former equity partner has initiated the liquidation process after it failed to recoup money allegedly owed to it by the Lions.
Guma boss Robert Gumede walked out on the partnership when tension between the two groups boiled over, following a number of boardroom disagreements that turned into an ugly public spat.
However, despite predictions by Gumede that his departure will be the end of the GLRU, the Lions not only found a new equity partner in Glasfit boss Altmann Allers (who is also the GLRU deputy president), but they went on to win the Currie Cup and met all their financial obligations.
“I can state categorically there won’t be any liquidation [of the GLRU],” De Klerk told this website.
“There were certain monetary advances [from Guma] as part of the equity deal they walked away from and we now have to determine exactly what money was advanced for what purpose,” the Lions boss added.
“Our lawyers and their lawyers are now involved in a process to understand the exact amount they are claiming back … that is the long and short of it.”
De Klerk said he was aware of the reports that the Guma Group want to apply for liquidation, but added there are certain conditions that have to be met before any company can take such action.
“You can only be liquidated if your debts exceed your assets and I can say truthfully that is not the case [with the GLRU].
“Our assets exceed our debts considerably and we also have Altmann [Allers, the owner of Glasfit and GLRU deputy president] who has stepped in as our new equity partner.
“He has already invested substantially in the GLRU.”
De Klerk admitted that there will be challenges for his union this coming season, but put it down to “legacy issues” which he inherited.
“Those we will resolve in time,” he said, adding: “There is no prospect of liquidation – we remain open for business as usual.”
He explained that the financial windfall as a result of the Lions hosting both a Currie Cup semifinal and Final (the latter attracted over 50,000 spectators) made a substantial contribution to alleviating any remaining financial issues.
“A win like that [in the Currie Cup Final] also opens other doors for you … it certainly had a very positive effect on our business.”
And the GLRU President, De Klerk, in an interview with this website last year, revealed that the union was going through a process of ‘right-sizing’.
This include reducing the number of players in the union’s books, terminating as many as 13 players’ contracts.
Asked about the reasons behind the right-sizing, De Klerk said they could not afford to live beyond their means.
“I would like to explain it this way: If you have just R100 to spend and your shopping list costs R120, you have to cut something out,” De Klerk said at the time.
“We are now going through that process, it is a long-term process. You can’t keep living hand-to-mouth.
“Unions depend on bums on seats, sponsors, those things for their income. We went through 12 lean years [poor attendances due to poor results] and this union really struggled.
“We are busy with that repair job and it is a tough task.”
The Guma boss, Gumede, was not immediately available to comment on the reports of his company’s ongoing spat with the GLRU.