Sharks shafted in valuation

South African rugby’s marketing gurus value the Stormers and Bulls brand as nearly twice as much as the Sharks, Cats and Cheetahs.

This startling revelation came from the chairman of the SA Rugby Union’s exclusive commercial broker Megapro Marketing.

George Rautenbach, in revealing to Rugby 365 that the Spears franchise had been offered a R8.5 million sponsorhip, said this had been consistent with the values attached to the Sharks, Cats and Cheetahs. He told the website that the offer was rejected because Spears CEO Tony McKeever wanted R15 million. Rautenbach said only the Stormers and Bulls could command this kind of price.

Keo.co.za has learned that SAA is the sponsor who had offered involvement with the Spears, but that the client’s offer was never entertained by the Spears.

The Sharks, SA Rugby’s most successful Super rugby franchise in making two finals, would be mortified to know that Megapro lumped them with a franchise like the Spears. The latter is still in the womb, let alone in dypers.

In speaking to Rugby365, Rautenbach said: “I had a client who was interested in sponsoring the Spears. I went to Tony McKeever and told him that I can clinch the deal at R8.5-million, but he simply turned it down. He [McKeever] wanted R15-million. I did not even make a formal presentation to the client, because I knew he [McKeever] was demanding too much for what his franchise was worth. He put himself in the same bracket as the Bulls and Stormers, while I felt he was more in the range of the others [Sharks, Cats and Cheetahs].

“I knew what they are worth and I compared it to other products in the market. We not only deal with rugby, but other sports like cricket as well.”

SARU officials will meet with McKeever and other Spears administration in Port Elizabeth on Friday when it is expected that the franchise will be shut down. The Spears, advanced R3million, have already spent R5million and don’t have money to pay their staff.

The individual provinces who make up the Spears, Eastern Province, Border and South Western Districts, have been riddled with financial mismanagement over the last few years and have been the subject of several investigations and audits. It is well known that all three unions are in huge debt and are proving another financial drain to SARU’s cash reserves.

If the Spears are given the boot on Friday, as is expected, it will also mean that the eight-team Currie Cup format, which was to involve the Spears, is reconsidered.