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Private equity and rugby: A combo filled with possibilities and pitfalls

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Patrice Motsepe acquired a 37% stake in the Bulls last year.
Patrice Motsepe acquired a 37% stake in the Bulls last year.
Lefty Shivambu

As beleaguered and rife with infighting as the Western Province Rugby Union may be, the ongoing saga regarding the potential acquisition of an equity partner neatly illustrates the complexity of private ownership in the local game.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has ground competitive play to a halt and necessitated an industry-wide cost-cutting plan that will save R1.2 billion this year, has shone a spotlight on the issue. 

"Private equity" has become the buzz-phrase, so to speak, as concerns persist over the ability of South Africa's unions to stay afloat by relying on broadcasting revenue distributions and sponsors, who are feeling the pinch of a constrained economic environment.

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