WP president gets slap on the wrist for 'inappropriate' media comments

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Zelt Marais (Gallo)
Zelt Marais (Gallo)

Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) president Zelt Marais has been reprimanded by the union's top brass over comments he made in the media last week.

In a wide-ranging interview with rugby specialist website Rugby365, Marais made allegations of "fake news" reporting, discussed the union's failed Investec-Remgro deal, the ongoing saga with developers Flyt, the move from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium and the failed negotiations with MVM Holdings.

MVM Holdings had expressed interest in buying a stake in Western Province but after negotiations fell through, the American consortium joined forces with the Durban-based Sharks.

In the interview, Marais said MVM Holdings had spread false news that they wanted to pay $6 million. "It's a lie, a very big lie. They offered $2 million to buy the business and wanted to loan $4 million to the business arm," Marais said. He also added that MVM held secret meetings with WP's clubs and offered them R25 000 each to force the union into signing the deal. 

Following a management meeting between Marais and the Board of Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR), Marais was advised to withdraw his comments and issue an apology.

Ebrahim Rasool, chairperson of the WPPR, said in a statement over the weekend that Marais' comments were not appropriate and "did not serve the interests of WPPR and rugby in the Western Province in any positive way".

Rasool continued in the statement: "In response, Mr Marais expressed remorse and agreed that he should not have said any of the things that he said during that recorded discussion with the journalist.

"He, therefore, withdrew those remarks in their entirety, without any condition, and apologised for any offence that might have been caused to the people mentioned. Mr Marais also agreed that he will no longer engage the media on the matters under discussion.

"In its own understanding of the negotiations of the transactions referred to, and the records thereof, the WPPR Board does not believe there has been any corruption or malfeasance by anybody mentioned, intentionally or not, especially as it relates to financial proposals made to the clubs of WP.

"The Board also refutes any suggestion that Mr Andre van de Veen was not duly appointed or renewed as a member of the Board, or that he was not duly mandated, authorised or requested to engage in the search for an equity partner.

"Furthermore, we reiterate that while our impending move from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium may be a bit sad - because of a decades-long history we shall leave behind - it is also an exciting one - for all the growth and expansion possibilities that will come with being based at Cape Town Stadium. It is nevertheless not a move we make with any recriminations or under any duress.

"As the WPPR Board, we have all intentions to put measures in place that will minimise, if not entirely eliminate any possibility of a repeat of what recently happened."

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