McKeever slams critics

Spears CEO Tony McKeever has hit back at a report that accuses him of turning down a lucrative R8-million sponsorship deal for his franchise late last year.

The report appears on rugby365.com and says the current financial problems being experienced by the Spears “is the result of McKeever’s outrageous financial demands – or as one source said: ‘He literally priced his team out of the market.’”

McKeever though maintains his franchise would have entertained any manner of sponsorship offer if one had actually existed. “That report is both mischievous and inaccurate. There was never any proposal tabled. It was just an informal chat,” McKeever told keo.co.za.

McKeever produced email correspondence with the supposed sponsor, SA Airways, that they had no knowledge of any approach to sponsor the Southern Spears. Saru CEO Johan Prinsloo was also on the mailing list, yet seems oblivious to the fact.

On December 12 last year, McKeever sent an email to Khaya Ngqula’s assistant. Ngqula is President and CEO of South African Airways. It read: “Are you aware of any sponsorship offer made to the Southern & Eastern Cape Super 14 Franchise, by South African Airways, in cash or in kind, now known as the Southern Spears? If so, would you be so kind as to forward this to me by return e-mail?”

He received a reply from the Head of Department: Sponsorship & Product at South African Airways, dated 18 January that states: “Good day Tony. We have no knowledge of a direct offer of sponsorship to the Southern Spears to date.”

Keo.co.za has this email correspondence in its possession.

It seems that McKeever is still waiting to see an offer if one was actually ever made. “The discussions had good intentions. And Megapro’s George Rautenbach who was not involved in our clothing agreement for the Spears as well as the three unions – Border, EP and South Western Districts – then came along and slapped us with a R75 000 fee. They didn’t do any of the ground work.”

Meanwhile, McKeever laughed off the fact that he was being sued by rugby365. In the report, it alleged: “He (McKeever) is indebted to 365 Digital Publishing (Pty) Ltd – the owners of Rugby365 – by a substantial amount. A summons for outstanding payment has been issued by 365′s lawyers to McKeever for services rendered and default judgment has been requested.”

The Spears CEO responded: “Yes, 365 had undertaken to do web work for us, but they didn’t do it. It’s a case of non-performance so we are refusing to pay. It’s as simple as that.”

McKeever is set to meet and SA Rugby/Saru delegation in Port Elizabeth later today in an effort to get to the bottom of the ongoing saga.

By Andrew Hollely