New Sharks CEO John Smit promises safer King’s Park

2013-04-24 00:00

DURBAN — Former Sharks and Springbok captain John Smit has promised to put measures in place to increase safety for fans outside King’s Park Stadium.

At 35, Smit, the most capped Springbok in history, will become the youngest executive officer of a South African franchise, when he becomes Sharks CEO on July 1, 2013.

Following the growing concern over fan violence in the outlying areas of King’s Park in Durban after British tourist Brett Williams was murdered three hours after a match between the Sharks and Rebels on March 23, Smit was quick to allay fears.

He confirmed that fan safety was top of his agenda and he would ensure that Kings Park Stadium continued to be a world-class venue.

Smit told the 2oceansvibe website: “The sad part is that I’m pretty certain this was not the first out-of-field fight. The terrible thing is that someone died here. We have to maintain some perspective when someone has lost a life.

“The outer fields form a massive part of what the King’s Park vibe is about. King’s Park is one of the most loved stadiums around the world. The Sharks will seek to maintain the vibe around the stadium and we will ensure there will be measures put in place, to make sure that people feel safe.”

Smit admitted he had a lot to learn, especially about the commercial roles of the CEO.

But he believes he is up to the challenge and feels fortunate that he can rely on the experience and support of departing CEO Brian Van Zyl, and an experienced board, who will take a mentoring role for his initial period as CEO.

Smit said he would not take a back seat in his new role, promising a hands-on approach.

“Operationally, I will have to hit the ground running — initially that will be the rugby side of things, making sure the team functions at as high a level as possible,” he said.

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