Golden Lions must pay up
MATTERS have gone from bad to worse for the Golden Lions Rugby Union, after they were Wednesday ordered to pay R2.565-million in overdue franchise fees to the Leopards Rugby Union.
Retired judge WJ Hartzenberg made the ruling after an arbitration dispute between the Golden Lions and their Super rugby partners - the Leopards and Mpumalanga Pumas.
It is a body blow to the Lions, who were booted out of the Super 15 for the 2013 season.
Hartzenberg ruled that the amount was payable to the Leopards for money owed between the 2008 and 2010 seasons. He ruled the Lions did not owe the Pumas any money because of an "earlier agreement on payment".
Interest on the amount owed to the Leopards would be calculated at 15.5% from the date of the arbitration agreement on May 31.
However, the Pumas and Leopards were suing for money owed up to and including the 2012 season.
Hartzenberg reserved judgment on this and has given the Lions two days to "conclude a business agreement" with the Leopards and Pumas relating to the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
If no agreement is reached in the next 48 hours, then Saru must come to a decision on a fair and reasonable distribution of the amounts of R6.6-million for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Lions president Kevin de Klerk will meet Saru today to discuss the outcome as well as the team's future.
"We are disappointed by the outcome. Even though we could try to take this further, arbitration outcomes are binding," De Klerk said.
"This dispute is one of many problems I inherited and is the result of badly worded agreements and contracts, and non-existent contracts.
"There are very vague notes from the minutes of meetings relating to the franchise agreements and that's why we went to arbitration to try to make some sense of this thing. But we committed ourselves to the system and we have to decide whether to take it further."