Kings give clarity on money woes
Cape Town - One of the major items on the agenda at Tuesday's portfolio committee meeting between SA Rugby and the department of Sport and Recreation was the current status of the Kings and Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU).
The EPRU is facing liquidation on May 10 for owing staff and players around R18 million in unpaid wages.
The good news on Tuesday was that SA Rugby are doing all they can to help secure sponsorship from external investors in an attempt to prevent the liquidation.
With Cheeky Watson absent from the meeting, the Kings were represented by their executive committee member Freddie Makoki.
Makoki welcomed the SA Rugby intervention, but he also had some rather revealing and powerful words about the mess the EP Kings currently found themselves in.
"You'll remember that the unification of sport in South Africa came in 1992," said Makoki.
"At that time the Eastern Cape and Eastern Province itself was one of the strongest in provincial rugby."
Makoki recalled that soon after unification came the professionalisation of the sport following the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
"If you can look back since that time, we have never had a single sponsor in that area," he said.
"We know why ... some of the people also know why ... but we keep the flame of rugby burning in that area. We produce players in that area with a minimum budget.
"Whilst we are doing that we have about 120 clubs which are playing rugby on the weekends. Those clubs are travelling a minimum of 300km to go and play rugby and those clubs are subsidized by EP Rugby.
"It is unfortunate that those who are still in control of the economy of this country find it very difficult to support Eastern Province and Border.
"We've got big companies ... I'm not going to mention names ... but they are not keen to sponsor those provinces.
"We've got a gold mine there in terms of players. They just need to be polished, but unfortunately the big business people don't want to assist us."
There was also no financial support coming from local government, according to Makoki.
"The metro as we speak now are not supporting us as EP rugby," he said.
"The people who are always promising are those from the other political parties who are saying that if we can take out Cheeky (Watson) they can put money in.
"That is not our democracy. Our democracy is that our clubs, constitutionally, they have a right to put whoever they want in that position.
"The metro is not assisting us ... they have got their own challenges. We have got three big sporting codes in that area, with cricket and soccer, and they also don't get a cent from the metro."