Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has offered to buy cash-strapped Super Rugby franchise the Southern Kings, South African media has reported.
The Port Elizabeth-based Kings are set to return to Super Rugby in the expanded 18-team competition from 2016, but the franchise is experiencing major financial problems with ongoing reports of wage issues.
Issues about unpaid wages first surfaced in July, and Kings players were reported to have gone on strike when similar problems arose in August. Overdue payments were finally made, but the problems have resurfaced and the South African Rugby Players Association issued a written 10-day notice for the Kings to pay outstanding salaries or face action. SARPA spokesperson Nyaniso Sam confirmed to SA Rugby Mag that the notice lapsed on Tuesday, and that various actions were being discussed if the matter were still not resolved by then.
And now the Son op Sondag newspaper has reported that Boudjellal has offered a financial lifieline to the Kings subject to two clauses: the newspaper reported that Boudjellal wanted to re-name the franchise the Mandela Kings and wanted guarantees that South Africa would play one Springboks Test a year each in Port Elizabeth and Toulon.
Rugbyweek reported this week that the franchise was 80 million Rand (£3.7 million, $Aus7.9 million) in debt while a 200 million Rand (£9.2 million, $Aus19.8 million) sponsorship had failed to materialise.