Liquidation of Kings sudden and tough, Schalk Ferreira says

Schalk Ferreira
Schalk Ferreira
Image: Richard Huggard

Veteran Southern Kings player Schalk Ferreira said the liquidation of his team was sudden and tough and that promises had been broken.

After news of the liquidation broke on Saturday, there have been many casualties among the Kings playing staff.

Cameron Wright, who recently moved to Port Elizabeth from Durban to further his career by playing in the European-based Guinness PRO14, now finds himself without a team.

Ironically, one of the reasons Wright left the Sharks was gain more game time at the Kings.

Another unemployed Kings squad member, CJ Velleman, is so desperate to play that he has offered his services to Griquas for free.

MyPlayers, an organisation that represents the interest of SA’s professional rugby players, described the liquidation move  as “downright cold-blooded”.

Kings players were told of the decision to liquidate their team by EPRU president Andre Rademan at a meeting at Imatu House on Saturday.

The shareholders — the EP Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby — took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55m, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.

‘The hard fact is that the Kings are insolvent, with significant debts and zero assets, and it would have been reckless of the board to continue to trade,’ board chair Andre Rademan said.

Ferreira said: “It’s been really tough; this is the second time this has happened.

“I don’t just believe it’s the previous owners the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World [GRC] who should be held responsible.

“SA Rugby has also played down responsibility, but I don’t think there was due diligence to see if they [GRC] could run our company and if there were enough finances.’

‘It’s felt like a sneak attack in the sense that we were promised our contracts would be honoured, but then this past weekend we heard there were going to be no payments.

“It’s been sudden and tough.

“First we heard that we’re out of PRO14 and then out of the Currie Cup.

“Some guys have two or three years’ contracts left.

“It’s very sad.”

PRO14 rugby bosses have confirmed they are in talks to include more SA teams in their league and also to find a replacement side for the Kings.

The Cheetahs and Kings have competed in the competition since 2017, though the Port Elizabeth  side will be replaced in 2021 after being put into liquidation by SA Rugby.

In a statement, PRO14 said: “SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are ongoing about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

“Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more SA franchises from 2021.”

There has been widespread speculation that SA Rugby is looking for a new home for the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers now that its continued existence in Super Rugby is in doubt.

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