Gumede pulls the rug out from under the Lions

Eight months after announcing they had sold a 49.9% stake to Guma TAC, the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) said on Tuesday that negotiations had fallen through.

In a press statement, the Lions said they were disappointed on hearing that IT billionaire Robert Gumede and international businessman Ivor Ichikowitz had terminated the agreement.

“We have worked very long and very hard at the union to deliver a workable final shareholders agreement,” said GLRU president Kevin de Klerk.

“We were prepared to keep working on that process, but unfortunately the agreement could not be concluded.”

De Klerk said the union’s first concern had always been for the wellbeing and integrity of rugby in the region and felt it was difficult to proceed with the agreement until the union’s concerns were settled.

He said the Lions’ leadership focus was “on ensuring the health of rugby at all levels — not just the marquee elements of the Lions team and playing venue.

“Producing a trophy-winning Lions team remains our top priority, but there’s always a danger that you can throw the baby out with the bath water,” said De Klerk.

“Our duty as a union is to promote and develop rugby at all levels in the Golden Lions region.”

He said the dissolution of the arrangement would not have a negative impact on the team’s preparations for the Currie Cup.

“The decision would free the union from the negotiating table to concentrate on their core responsibilities.” — Sapa

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