See letter below* sent to EP Kings players and officials from Cheeky Watson, we secured a sponsor for three years and Watson is trying all that he can to hang on to power. How is he expecting to pay the players seeing that the Metro closed that door on him? We are asking all players to hold on as we have a sustainable long term solution for the EP Kings. Please work with us to end the dominant Watson era and restart a new era with a sponsor who will bring financial stability to secure a better future for all players and the union. We ask you all to support us to get this sponsor aboard and to strengthen EP rugby and our club structures.
NMB Ratepayers association
* The Letter from Cheeky:
To all players and staff
Re: The lack of communication and non payment
I would like to start off this letter to you all by apologising for the lack of communication that has taken place from the administration’s side.
As you may know I am currently overseas due to delays in the release of sponsorship funding, and this has made it difficult to engage. But this does not mean, as some seem to be implying, that I do not take the challenges the union is currently going through seriously.
I know that there is a significant amount of scepticism around the sponsorship funding. This has come about due to unforeseen delays that have occurred following my initial announcement.
These delays have also significantly impacted on the union’s cash flow. Despite these challenges, as you are all aware, EP Rugby has made alternative arrangements to secure funding in order to cover our salaries bill and we have been able to pay, although payments have been late.
I am fully aware of the challenges that each late payment creates as we all have bills to pay and debit orders that come off our accounts at a certain time each month, and that this has caused unnecessary stress for all of us.
It is not a situation that I would wilfully place anyone under, nor is it a situation that I wanted repeated, so I am heartbroken that we once again find ourselves in this situation just months before our return to Super Rugby.
I am aware that, through SARPA, many players and coaching staff have been advised that, as payment did not take place on the 10th, EP Rugby are now in breach of contract and as such players and staff are entitled to seek alternative employment.
SARPA are correct in their assessment and I fully understand that some of you have already decided to move on. Know that there is no animosity on my part and I will continue to follow your rugby careers going forward and wish you all the success you deserve.
To the rest I ask for you to please bear with us once more. While I cannot give any guarantees on exactly when funding will be available as I write this, I remain confident that the funding I have spoken of will come through.
I want you all to know that I have also been engaging with SA Rugby, and with SARPA, with regards to the situation that we find ourselves in and have been keeping them up to date on all the issues.
I remain confident that, no matter the outcome the next few weeks hold, we will be in a position to take up our rightful place in Super Rugby next year.
Yours in Sport
Background – The October 2015 revelations from the NMBRA:
The NMBRA and AfriForum PE conducted an investigation into Access Management, the NMB Stadium operator, and it came to our attention that the NMB Metro is channelling ratepayers monies through Access to pay the running costs of the EP Kings and the players and that this been ongoing for a number of years.
We has had a number of meetings with some EP Board Members and has given them proof of ratepayers monies being paid over to Access for the Kings from the Metro. I also had discussions with Danny Jordaan regarding rugby and soccer in the Metro and he shared our concerns and agreed to assist in finding a solution to ensure that the financial situation of the EP Kings receives urgent attention. I have also been in contact with SARU and I met with Cheeky Watson on Thursday to discuss the following:
- the financial situation of the EP Kings and the potential sponsorship that he has been promising since June this year,
- the reason for the delay with the sponsorship and we have insisted on proof of the sponsor which he refused to give,
- when will the outstanding salaries to players and officials be paid of which some are up to three month in arrears,
- the reason for him using ratepayers monies to pay running costs and the salaries of the EP Kings for a number of years,
- that we are busy negotiating with sponsors and would he step down to allow a new sponsor to take over,
- the upcoming High Court Application against the irregular re-appointment of Access Management and the implication of such application on the future of EP Rugby.
Cheeky Watson did not handle the meeting well and told me that he will discuss this with the EP Board Members on his return from Australia where he will be attending a family wedding. He never mentioned that he will be meeting any sponsor as quoted in the Weekend Post.
AfriForum has been holding back on the High Court application against Access in order to provide Watson with the opportunity to secure a sponsor for EP Kings. This would have ensured that rugby and soccer would continue undisrupted in NMB Metro while court proceedings are underway. We entered into negotiations with sponsors to prevent the EP Kings losing players for next year’s Super 16 series.
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