CAPE TOWN – Former Springbok captain Corne Krige says it might be “the right time for someone to take control of the Western Province board and run it professionally”.
Earlier this week it was reported that an American lawyer, Marco Masotti, expressed interest in buying a controlling stake in Western Province and the Stormers and that he submitted an exclusivity agreement to the WPRFU early in July in which he offers to buy 51 percent of the Stormers.
Former Durbanite Masotti, a senior partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, wants to, together with a group of partners consisting of former South African businessmen, invest about $6-million (around R100-million) – $4m of that would go to the Stormers and $2m to the union (WP). He also wants control of the board.
In terms of the “American influence” on SA Rugby, Krige said: “It can be a very good thing. Rugby and NBA needs to be run like a business.”
Krige also said while he thinks acquiring total control would be tough, taking a step towards privatisation would be to rugby’s benefit.
“If they want total control I think that would be very difficult, I don’t think the powers that be would want to give up that control, but maybe it’s the right time for someone to take control of the board and run it very professionally,” Krige said.
“It might be a very good thing for Western Province Rugby, but the possibility of it actually happening would be quite difficult I think.”
With rugby, and sport in general, entering new financial waters given the Covid-19 pandemic, the topic of privatisation is now perhaps even more relevant.
Last year, the Bulls became the first South African franchise to go that route when the Blue Bulls company sold a 37 percent stake to Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Company and Remgro boss Johan Rupert’s company also own a 37 stake in the Bulls, giving the Bulls a 74 percent private ownership.
“That’s the way things are moving to try and privatise the unions, you need outside money. It has become very apparent that the old model – where you have to rely on season tickets and TV rights to sustain a union – doesn’t really work anymore.
“You can’t guarantee people coming to stadiums anymore because there is so much on TV (rugby) that you can’t guarantee them coming to live games.
“So, I think the model needs to be reshaped, and if this is the first step on taking that leap, it might be the right one.”