Cape Town - Aerios, the commercial partner at legal loggerheads with WP Rugby over advertising rights, has released a statement questioning statements made by the union’s president, Thelo Wakefield.
This comes after Sport24 reported last week that WP Rugby intended to sell its home ground, Newlands.
Wakefield subsequently denied the claims in media reports over the weekend.
He made the comments after sending an email to the union’s almost 100 clubs, claiming that a sale was never on the cards.
This urgent denial came after Aerios, one of the union's creditors, advised the clubs that a sale of the stadium may already have been concluded.
"Newlands will never be sold, nor will any other property of Western Province be sold. That is a decision we took, it is a principled decision. It is not even on the table for discussion, it is absurd. How can we sell a property like Newlands?” Wakefield was quoted as saying.
Aerios on Tuesday released a statement in which they questioned the WPRFU’s refusal to be transparent about the sale of the Newlands stadium.
The statement reads:
"This directly contradicts a statement made by the Southern Palace Group of Companies (SPG), stating that they are in 'advanced stages' of discussion with the WPRFU. SPG has purchased Murray and Roberts Construction, which is now called Concor.
"It seems that Wakefield is not only contradicting SPG (who is also a major sponsor of the Springboks), but he’s also contradicting himself. As recently as the beginning of this month, Wakefield claimed that upgrades to Newlands stadium would not be necessary, saying 'Why spend money on Newlands now, if a move to Cape Town Stadium is imminent?'. This is not the first time he’s mentioned the move. In October Wakefield stated to media, 'I know that there are emotions involved, but in the end, that does not pay the bills. It is inevitable that we move... If our vision is to be the leading union in the world, we must have world-class facilities'.
"It’s understood that an MOU between the City of Cape Town and WPRFU may have been signed. Aerios has put in a PAIA request for all documentation regarding the sale of Newlands and the move to Cape Town Stadium, to clarify exactly at what stage these discussions are. However, Wakefield, in his own words has already announced to the press that talks have been held with the City of Cape Town, adding that a media statement would be made at an 'opportune time'."
Aerios CEO, Costas Constantinou, said the secrecy regarding the move to the Cape Town Stadium and the negotiations regarding the sale of the Newlands should be cause for concern to the clubs that are part of the union, and to the sponsors and supporters of rugby in the Western Cape.
“Given the current political climate in which we find ourselves and the liquidation of Western Province Rugby (Pty) Ltd, I would have expected a new culture of transparency and inclusivity within WPRFU”.
Constantinou also said that the clubs, sponsors and supporters of the union and the city’s rate payers are being kept in the dark and that he was “looking forward to receiving the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) documentation from the City of Cape Town; that will clear up a lot of the confusion”.
Despite Wakefield’s claims over the weekend that “there are contingencies in place to repay debtors, the only one being Remgro”, the WP president refused to explain what these strategies were and what the financial status of the union was.
“Mr Wakefield’s distrust of the people of the Western Cape and his covert decision-making style has certainly played a role in the exponential decline of supporters attending fixtures at the Newlands Stadium," Constantinou continued.