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Wed Apr 23 12:26:03 SAST 2014

Luyt tears into Lions' bosses

CRAIG RAY | 27 August, 2012 08:190 Comments
Absa Currie Cup: MTN Golden Lions v Toyota Free State Cheetahs
JC Janse van Rensburg of the Lions during the Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs at Ellis Park on August 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Image by: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

FORMER Golden Lions Rugby Union president Louis Luyt has hit out at the management of the once-proud union after the Lions were relegated from Super rugby for 2013.

Luyt, who retired from the GLRU in 2000, left Ellis Park with the Lions in rude financial health. They had "R85-million in cash reserves and no debt", yet today they are technically bankrupt.

"It's not a question of what's happened to the GLRU but rather a question of why people allowed it to happen," Luyt told internet radio station Ballz radio.

"The brand was fantastic and in 1996 when we signed the Murdoch agreement (which funded Super rugby and the Tri-Nations), according to the people I dealt with the finest union in the world was the Transvaal Rugby Union, which is now the GLRU.

"With all due respect, how can you let a fantastic union like the Lions go down the drain like they did? I can only assume that people who were in charge didn't know what they were doing and what rugby was about.

"The money was there. But somehow or other the decision was made to use the money for junior rugby and other poor business decisions.

"There was no plan, no bloody plan. What the hell did they do all that time?

"Where is the money? How the hell can you lose that much money? It's there to be invested and earn more money. You lose it only if you're stupid enough to lose it," he said.

The former Sarfu boss was fearful for the union's prospects: "I'll tell you one thing, if the GLRU owes more money than it can pay, it will have to go into liquidation.

"It's painful for me to contemplate that it could be sequestrated and closed down because it was the finest and strongest union in the world not so long ago."

Luyt said there was some hope: "This crisis can be solved but it will require clear heads and no egos. I would find good investors and they could rebuild the Lions to its former glory. No one's asked me to help and I don't know if I could, but there are people out there who can help."

Adding insult to their Super rugby ejection injury, the Lions were told by an independent arbitrator that they have to cough up R2.565-million in unpaid franchise fees to the Leopards, with the possibility of another R6.6-million due to be paid to the Mpumalanga Pumas and the Leopards.

Luyt took a dim view of the crisis: "I don't know how they are going to pay that money because they don't have it."

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Luyt tears into Lions' bosses

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