Cheeky snubbed Toulon offer – consultant


SPORTS consultant Jason Smith claims that Cheeky Watson ignored a letter from the multimillionaire-owner of French rugby club Toulon, Mourad Boudjellal, in which he expressed interest in buying in to the EP Kings.

Smith said he had forwarded a signed letter to Watson last month, but did not receive a reply from the Kings president, whose franchise has cash-flow problems which have resulted in late payment to players.

The Kings did not respond yesterday when asked for comment on the Toulon bid.

When news first broke that Toulon had offered to buy the Kings, Watson was quoted saying the Toulon offer was laughable.

“He [Boudjellal] wanted two Springbok tests per year. One would be played in Nelson Mandela Bay and one in Toulon,” Watson said.

“There is no way to get two Bok tests. I had to beg to get just one.

“Further, he wants SA Rugby to take over all the Kings debt and he also wants all the money from the broadcast rights to be paid directly to him.

“It is absolute madness,” he said.

Smith, however, disputes that Boudjellal laid down certain stipulations as no negotiations had taken place.

He said the only conditions on the table were:

Three years of financials be provided for scrutiny; and

The brand Mandela Kings be investigated.

“I sent them [EP Kings] a 15-page proposal convincing them of various benefits,” Smith, of World Artists, said in an e-mail to The Herald.

“After receiving no reply, I then sent it a week later to Cheeky and chief executive Charl Crous and received a very weak reply that Cheeky would get back to me at some stage.

“So I sent it a third time to Cheeky and copied in all of the exco.

“Again I received no reply, although Cheeky got very upset with me and called World Artists’ MD in South Africa to give me a message.”

Smith would not say what the message was.

“He ignores a letter from the owner of the wealthiest and most successful club in France but still feels compelled to chase the $$ from this mystery investor of whom he refuses to reveal the identity,” he said.

“Surely, after waiting 10 months for this mystery individual to transfer the promised funds, it is time for Cheeky to turn his back on the individual.

“Our player management company represents various players and some of them have had enough of this stubborn attitude from Cheeky.

“He will not accept that he has to be more transparent with regards to this mystery investor or he has a responsibility to turn his back on the prospect,” Smith said.

The SA Rugby Union (Saru) constitution does have stipulations regarding buy-ins from overseas parties.

If Boudjellal was to become a partner, as opposed to the sole owner, he would not be allowed to own a controlling share in the Kings.

When Saru were approached for comment, media officer Andy Colquhoun could not reply as he was out of the country attending a Sanzar meeting in Australia.

Watson is also out of the country and believed to be in Australia.

In a statement last week, the Kings said Watson had left for an overseas trip on Friday where he would meet the mystery sponsors.

The sponsorship is believed to be in the region of R200-million.

“Watson travelled overseas on Friday, where, among other things, he would be meeting with the sponsors over the delayed funding,” EP Rugby said.

The SA Rugby Players’ Association have given EP Kings a deadline of today to pay their players’ overdue wages.

-George Byron

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