Players’ body sets deadline for EP Kings to pay wages
IN a drastic new move, the SA Rugby Players’ Association (Sarpa) have given the cash-strapped EP Kings a deadline of November 10 to pay their players’ overdue wages.
If the wages are not paid by that date, Sarpa is weighing up its options on what action to take against the Kings, who will return to Super Rugby in just under four months.
“We have sent a letter to the Kings informing them that they have 10 days [from October 31] to pay the salaries,” Sarpa spokesman Nyaniso Sam said.
“They have not responded to our letter.
“We will look at our options closer to that deadline.
“In the meantime, we have kept the players in the loop and offered assistance to those needing advice.”
There has been speculation that the validity of the players’ contracts could be affected.
There was no comment from the Kings yesterday when they were asked whether the players had been paid.
A SA Rugby Union (Saru) spokesman said: “EP are keeping us up to date with the situation and their plans to regularise the position.
“It is a matter for them to resolve ultimately, and we trust they are able to do that as soon as possible.”
The Kings media office set up a meeting on Monday to discuss queries with Kings chief executive Charl Crous, but there was no update on the outcome of the meeting.
There was talk yesterday that Kings president Cheeky Watson was set to attend a Sanzar meeting in Australia, but this was denied by Watson.
The Kings players are on their end-of-season break and will return to training on November 11.
With their opening Super Rugby match against the Sharks on February 27, some are questioning whether the Kings will be ready for battle if the union continues to be beset by cash problems.
Last month, Watson promised that the recent financial problems would not be repeated.
“We are confident that the union will be in a strong financial position going forward and that this will not repeat itself,” he said. ý
THERE would appear to be no end to the cash crisis that has beset the Eastern Province Kings. Matters seemed to be taking a turn for the better last month when a top level South African rugby delegation headed by Oregan Hoskins gave the Kings a big thumbs up.
Hoskins said after the meeting that the national body had full confidence in president Cheeky Watson to lead the Southern Kings back into Super Rugby next year.
In fact, Hoskins encouraged both business and rugby supporters to get behind the Kings ahead of their return to the international stage.
There were high hopes that the cash flow problem was something of the past when Watson promised after the meeting with Hoskins that the matter would not be repeated.
But alarm bells were set off again this week when it emerged the players had once again not been paid.
In a new twist, an alarmed SA Rugby Players Association has given the Kings a deadline to pay their players or face consequences.
Sarpa spokesman Nayaniso Sam says the Kings have until November 10 to meet their wage obligations. Worryingly, Sam says the Kings have not responded to their letter, and this does not bode well for cordial relations between EP Rugby and the association.
Sam says his body has kept players in the loop and offered assistance to those needing advice.
It is not clear what measures Sarpa will take if no payment is made before the deadline. It has been suggested that the validity of the players’ contracts may be questioned by further non-payment.
It is rather strange that the Kings have opted for a policy of “no comment” every time the question of salaries has been put to them. This wall of silence is doing nothing to calm the fears of players and rugby supporters who are now questioning whether the franchise will be ready to play Super Rugby next year.
It would be in the interests of EP Rugby to be more transparent if they want to win back the public confidence and support.