Golden Lions Rugby Union President Kevin de Klerk has rubbished reports that his union is "totally bankrupt", following the disbandment of their partnership with the GumaTAC Group.
In a public divorce this week the GLRU parted ways with their BEE partners, Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz, after the two groups failed to find common ground on certain issues and negotiations around the completion of the shareholders agreement were terminated.
A sensitive document, in essence correspondence between De Klerk and Gumede, has since been leaked to the media.
The document suggests, amongst others, that the GLRU is "totally bankrupt" and they have debts amounting tens of millions - including a R30-million with a major banking group, which they have to pay back by Sunday.
Other claims, which De Klerk contested, in the so-called 'leaked report' include the GLRU's inability to pay salaries.
De Klerk told rugby365.com on Friday that every item in that document could be disputed and described the leaking of the document as a case of "sour grapes", because the GLRU already have another offer on the table from a BEE partner.
"There is no question of bankruptcy," De Klerk said, adding: "It is business as usual [at the GLRU].
"To release such sensitive information to the media is uncalled for and is, in my view, sour grapes. There are proper channels in which these issues should be addressed."
De Klerk added that the union has survived for 120 years and will continue to do so.
He also dismissed claims that GumaTAC have invested R14-million in the Lions to date.
"We have seen very little of the money they talk about," De Klerk told rugby365.com.
The GLRU boss also took the time out to respond to each of the claims made in the Gumede document.
According to the leaked document::
1. The Guma Group on its own accord managed to get sponsorships of about R100-million for the Lions. The sponsorships, which were negotiated based on the Lions' vision to transform, may now be in jeopardy.
De Klerk: "That is absolute rubbish. We were part of the negotiations with MTN and we also had an offer from Toyota [now the Cheetahs' sponsor] on the table. They negotiated on the strength of the Lions."
2. The Lions considered an offer of R220-million for the sale of Ellis Park by the Marc Group while the government spent R540-million on improvements to the stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
De Klerk: "We have to plan very carefully for the way forward, but we have many stakeholders who have to be considered and consulted before anything like this can happen. As I said, all the statements in that document can be contested."
3. The GLRU were unable to pay salaries in October and December last year, as well as in January this year. The Guma Group had to provide a guarantee to ABSA to ensure that salaries could be paid.
De Klerk: "That is rubbish and a hopelessly untested statement. All salaries were paid and will continue to be paid."
4. The Guma Group had to step in to ensure that the repayment of a loan of R30-million to a major banking group in May was postponed and recently also had to negotiate the extension of payment of the loan until 3 July.
De Klerk: "All major businesses have facilities with institutions. Yes, we have a facility, but it is rubbish that we have to pay it back by Sunday. It is untrue that there is a deadline this weekend."
5. The GLRU has up to 90 players under contract and some of the players are receiving big salaries in spite of not being at training.
De Klerk: "That number includes all our players, in all the junior [age group] and senior teams. It is another contestable statement."
6. Dick Muir (former Lions coach) received a salary of about R2,2-million per year, even though he has not been actively involved at the Lions since May last year.
De Klerk: "We are busy negotiating with Dick [Muir] to end his contract."
7. Certain members of the Golden Lions executive have pursued their own agendas and undermined the partnership.
De Klerk: "That is just plain rubbish."
By Jan de Koning
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