Play­ers’ body sets dead­line for EP Kings to pay wages

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­orge By­ron by­rong@times­me­dia.co.za

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.

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