Kings to be saved from liquidation?
Cape Town - The Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) faces liquidation on May 10, but there could be a way out of their financial crisis before then...
The EP Kings reportedly owe players and staff around R18 million in unpaid wages, and the union has until Tuesday, May 10 to either come up with the funds or provide reasons to the high court why they should not be liquidated.
SA Rugby has taken charge of the Southern Kings in the interim, contracting their own players to represent the franchise in Super Rugby 2016.
At Tuesday's parliamentary portfolio committee meeting in Cape Town, SA Rugby confirmed to national government that they were doing everything they could to help the Kings out of their current predicament.
And, according to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, things were looking promising.
"It's widely published there is a liquidation application. There is a very final date in terms of May 10 and we are working closely with EP Rugby Union and other stakeholders in ensuring that we come to a settlement either before that date, along with the EP Rugby Union, and hopefully go into a business rescue through the help of equity partners," Roux said.
"There is a very definite line in the sand which is May 10 which we're working towards ... we will do everything in our power to assist that union."
Roux confirmed that SA Rugby had not provided any funding to the EPRU.
"We can only provide funding in terms of our budget and our processes so no additional funding has been given," he said.
"In terms of deals on the table ... yes, we are talking to three different equity partners at the moment. It is a very sensitive process given that there is a potential liquidation and settlement agreement.
"We need to get to the right people ensuring that the right deal is on the table that can take EP Rugby forward."
SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins confirmed to Sport24 after the portfolio meeting that the plan was to help prevent the EPRU being liquidated.
"It depends on all the role-players. There has got to be buy-in from all the stakeholders," said Hoskins.
"The creditors have got to agree ... they must see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"I think that from our side there has been good progress made in terms of possible business interests coming on board which for me is really a great story."
Hoskins reiterated that there would be no financial help from SA Rugby.
"From a financial point of view, SARU is not going to be helping out," he said.
"But what the CEO (Roux) is talking about is that he is talking to potential sponsors coming on board and they want to know that there is a good adherence to governance going forward.
"From a SARU perspective we want to ensure that there is good governance in the province and in the franchise and then I think it's going to be the all-clear for potential sponsors to come on board."
EPRU president Cheeky Watson was not present at the portfolio committee meeting, but executive committee member Freddie Makoki was vocal on the challenges facing the union.
Makoki bemoaned a lack of financial support from business and local government, but was hopeful that SARU's endeavour to secure financial injection would prove fruitful.
"We don't get a cent from the metro," he said.
"Hopefully now this can be resolved and we will be sitting here with a solution."