Breaking news: The Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) have been dealt a major blow with news that Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz have abruptly ended their relationship with the union.Timmy Hancox reports... Brett: 'May the best flyhalf win' | More news...
GLRU President Kevin de Klerk confirmed to rugby365.com that negotiations around the completion of the shareholders agreement were terminated on Tuesday by IT billionaire Gumede's company GUMA TAC.
"The negotiations were complex and each party was trying to secure exactly what would be best for them," de Klerk told rugby365.com.
De Klerk also believes that at this stage it is unlikely that the two parties would consider resuming negotiations in the future.
"Not as things stand at the moment," he said after being questioned about any relationship in the future.
Financially this will send a shock wave through the Union that had made all its plans based on the knowledge that it would have considerable resources at its disposal.
"Financially things are not looking too great at this stage, as being the astute businessmen that they [Gumede and Ichikowitz] are, not very much money had changed hands while they were waiting for the completion of the shareholders agreement.
"In essence we won't be receiving the projected income from them and will now start to search for somebody else to invest with us."
The arrangement was a wonderful opportunity to embrace a new future for the Golden Lions in a vibrant new partnership, but now opens the door for financial instability if there is no investment made by another party.
De Klerk was unable to go into the finer details about the reasons behind the collapse of the negotiations, but wanted to focus on the health of rugby in the province.
"Producing a trophy-winning Lions team remains our top priority, but there's always a danger that you can throw the baby out with the bathwater, and our duty as a Union is to promote and develop rugby at all levels in the Golden Lions region," he said.
The team must now try to move forward and continue with their preparations for the upcoming Currie Cup without the spending power that allowed them to secure the likes of coaches John Mitchell and Carlos Spencer, and star signings Butch James, Bandise Maku and Lionel Mapoe.
By Timmy Hancox
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