Spears problem snowballing

According to Southern Spears CEO Tony McKeever, SA Rugby now owes the franchise nearly R15-million.

And, says McKeever, that amount will balloon by R1-million every week until a resolution is found. McKeever was speaking to keo.co.za following Judge Dennis Davis issuing his full judgement yesterday and he pulled no punches, as has become his trademark.

“The judgement is quite simply a scathing indictment on SA Rugby and their unilateral reneging of the Spears agreement,” McKeever told keo.co.za.

“What SA Rugby have seriously overlooked is Judge Davis’ invitation to approach his court to ask for relief. If the Spears and SA Rugby are unable to work out the compensation to the Spears as they have been denied 14 Absa Currie Cup games which competition was always intended to be the pathway for preparation for the Spears for the 2007 Super 14.”

The Spears could seek further compensation from SA Rugby for loss of revenue during the Currie Cup if the two parties cannot reach a mutual agreement in the near future, according to the ruling.

“So now not only does SA Rugby have to pay the Spears R6.4m through to December 2006, but the court can now rule a monetary relief or compensatory amount, which the Spears put at R7.5m for the unlawful exclusion of the Spears from the Currie Cup.

“Furthermore, SA Rugby are seriously putting their Super 14 agreements in jeopardy, with Newscorp – which is R140m a year for 5 years – Sanzar and Vodacom as the competition sponsor.

“SA Rugby can now realistically begin to count the cost of R1-million, per week, for every week that passes, without arriving at a mutual resolution with the Spears. This amount now stands at R14.9m.”

According to McKeever, SA Rugby has already incurred a further amount of R3.5m in legal costs to pay for their own counsel as well as that of the Spears.

SA Rugby MD Johan Prinsloo responded by emphatically telling keo.co.za that McKeever’s figures were skewed. “I do not agree with his figures at all,” Prinsloo said. “It seems every time we turn around the number has grown and grown. We are trying to resolve this matter through negotiation and it is an ongoing process.”

“I am aware of some paper work that was submitted by Mr McKeever that had some interesting figures on it, but that is in the hands of our lawyers. We have appealed the verdict in the court and are awaiting that decision. Other than that I have nothing else to say on the matter. Our legal people are handling this for us.”

By Andrew Hollely