Lions and ex-partners set to scrum down
THE continued imbroglio between the Golden Lions and their former equity partners, the Guma TAC Group, this week took a turn for the worse when it emerged the latter may have initiated steps to have the Currie Cup champions liquidated.
Tensions between the parties reached boiling point last year, leading the Guma Group to back away from their much-trumpeted equity deal with the indigent union. Although they then claimed to have invested R14-million in the union, the amount they are hoping to recoup is believed to be significantly higher.
Responding to requests for comment this week, Lions president Kevin de Klerk said he was not aware of any impending legal action.
"This may be publicity seeking. I find their tactics quite sneaky. We are still seeking clarification, but they went on a tangent in the media instead of sitting down with us," De Klerk bristled. "Their claims have to be justified. They walked away from our agreement.
"I don't know how much is justifiably due to them because that is something the lawyers have to work out."
New equity partner and Lions deputy president Altmann Allers echoed De Klerk's sentiments, suggesting some of the financial agreements the Guma Group entered into while they were equity partners were without the knowledge or consent of the Lions.
"These are costs incurred by them and should be treated as such," said Allers.
"They will have to prove to us how they arrived at the figures they are demanding. Clearly there were financial decisions they undertook that we weren't part of.
"I don't think an application for liquidation will be successful because they will have to prove they are legitimately owed the money.
"Our last correspondence with them was on November 23 last year. We agreed the matter should be referred to arbitration and we are still in favour of that."
Eric Ichikowitz, one of the Guma Group's representatives when they had equity in the Lions, could not shed more light on the matter.
"I've been a little removed from what the Guma Group's intentions might be because I now focus on other areas of the business.
"I can't say whether the Guma Group is seeking to have the Lions liquidated."
A liquidation order could have huge implications for the Lions, who have just completed a belt-tightening exercise.
"We streamlined the business and clearly that presented challenges because that meant job cuts," De Klerk said.
"We had to cut costs by 20% and we succeeded in doing that."