Vodacom Super Rugby
Lions welcome cash boost
Johannesburg - Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) president Kevin de Klerk says the signing of a multi-million rand sponsor will assist with "legacy issues" at the union.
The GLRU, reportedly in deep financial crisis, signed a three-year deal with Redefine Properties on Thursday.
"It will fall into the budget and we are projecting to have all these legacy issues sorted out in the very near future," De Klerk said.
"We project to be cash flush in months. We are not saying that we are not [cash flush], but this has gone a long way in alleviating the situation at the Lions."
Former GLRU potential equity partners, the Guma Tac Group, said in January the union was "hopelessly insolvent, both factually and commercially".
Guma Tac took steps to liquidate the GLRU, filing papers at the High Court in Johannesburg to regain multi-million rand loans.
Jointly owned by Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz, Guma Tac cut ties with the GLRU in June 2011, shortly before it was to have purchased a 49.9% stake in the union. The Leopards and the Pumas, franchise partners, were also reportedly owed millions of rands by the union.
"Altman Allers coming in as equity partner has helped that tremendously," De Klerk said.
"The legacy issues we've had are tied up between the Leopards and the Pumas going back a number of years."
De Klerk said the union was delighted about securing the sponsorship despite the bad publicity it received over recent months.
"The real heart of the matter is that the people (Redefine Properties) have assessed us very closely and decided irrespective of what people are trying to say about us, they have nailed their colours to our cross," said De Klerk.
He said there were other sponsors waiting in the wings to jump into bed with the Lions on a similar basis as Redefine Properties. De Klerk said the legal process initiated by Guma Tac was through the court and he felt it did not have a place in rugby.
"We will not negate or renege on any of our responsibilities to them and any of the moneys that are... payable legally we will settle."
Redefine Properties joins the GLRU as a co-sponsor of the MTN Lions team, with the Redefine logo being featured on the players' jersey for both the Super Rugby and Currie Cup competitions.
De Klerk sought to assure the new co-sponsor of the Lions franchise team, the 2011 Currie Cup champions, that it had bought into a reliable product.
"We would like them to be assured that they have bought into a highly committed people that have the vision and drive to collectively establish the Lions brand as a world leading brand again," he said.
"We welcome Redefine today, and look forward to a successful and mutually beneficial working relationship over the next three years."