Cash strapped Kings draw the curtain on 2020 campaign

Though SA Rugby is in the process of scheduling a return to play, the Kings have withdrawn themselves from contention, as local rugby continues to struggle after five months with no on-field action.

Locked in financial turmoil, the Southern Kings made a shock decision on Tuesday, voluntarily pulling out of all competitions for the remainder of the year.

The Kings had been expected to form
part of an eight-team Currie Cup competition next month, but the
Eastern Cape union revealed it had been left stranded, with no income available for players and staff.

Andre Rademan, the chairman of the Southern Kings board and the Eastern Province Rugby Union, said they did not have the financial resources to enter a top-flight domestic competition.

“If we did so, it would require additional loans to the Kings or extra investment from the shareholders to the tune of R6.5 million, which would add to the organisation’s existing substantial debt,” Rademan said.

SA Rugby’s executive council was set to meet on Wednesday, and there was a general council meeting scheduled for Friday, in order to formulate a proposal on the future of the franchise system in the country, with voting taking place next month.

It had already been suggested in weekend reports that the number of franchises be cut from six to four, which could mean the end of the Kings’ and Cheetahs’ participation in the Pro14.

The Kings players and staff were informed of the decision yesterday morning, following an urgent board meeting on Monday afternoon.

“As there was no contractual requirement for the Kings to resume
short-term participation in the Pro14 competition, because of air travel
restrictions, and as the Kings had no other commercial commitments to honour, the most prudent decision was to withdraw,” Rademan said.

Though SA Rugby was in the process of scheduling a return to play, the sport had already lost the Falcons second-tier team, with the professional arm of the East Rand franchise recently being declared insolvent, as local rugby continued to struggle after five months with no on-field action.

“Following several weeks of interrogation of the Kings’ financial state of affairs we were left with a straightforward choice,” Rademan said.

“The board believed that further investment in 2020 with zero commercial return would be reckless in the extreme.”

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