In a fight that has been dragging on since 2016, Aerios, which managed the advertising rights of the WPRFU, reportedly served papers to both Saru and WP yesterday after concluding “an extensive three-year inquiry into unlawful conduct”.
Die manne at Aerios are convinced that “Saru acted unlawfully in trying to rid itself of them for self-gain and apparently did so by applying undue pressure on WPR to release itself from advertising agreements dating from 2012”.
Aerios CEO Costas Constantinou believes Saru boss Jurie Roux en sy manskappe used gevaarlike tactics to threaten then-WP president Thelo Wakefield and his ouens.
Constantinou is of the opinion that a Newlands Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks was also used as part of the threats.
A statement released on Wednesday by PR company Jigsaw reads: “After enduring months of distress at the hands of Saru, WPR eventually took a decision to ‘release’ itself from the Aerios agreements by going into liquidation, on the ground that it was unable to pay its debts.
“Having taken this decision, it immediately informed Aerios that its advertising contracts with Aerios would not be honoured. This was in 2016.”
Since then, they have been hard at work coming up with a plan and are now “suing Saru as the main respondent and also the WPRFU for R183 million in damages”.
Constantinou says: “We believe that Saru endorsed the liquidation of WPR.
“In doing so, it abused its effective monopoly over professional rugby and its position of authority over its members.
“In addition, it intentionally interfered with and forced WPR to end its contractual relationship between WPR and Aerios.”
According to the statement, Aerios was granted the exclusive rights to create, develop, install and operate Wi-Fi and DAS networks and digital mobile content at Newlands rugby stadium.
But Constantinou adds: “Saru purposely ignored the rights WPR had granted to Aerios.
“Saru instead concluded broadcasting and mobile digital agreements with SuperSport.
“This meant that Saru had granted SuperSport and Saru sponsors commercial rights that WPR had previously committed itself to contractually to Aerios...”
He adds: “If they had been challenged at the time, these decisions would undoubtedly have put Saru on a collision course with its council member, WPRFU.
“We maintain that Saru abused its power and authority by continuously threatening WPRFU that it would not allocate lucrative Test matches - including an imminent fixture between South Africa and archrivals New Zealand - to the Newlands rugby stadium...
“Saru’s opposition to the Aerios contract culminated in its CEO, Jurie Roux, issuing a number of threats to the then-WPRFU President, Thelo Wakefield.
“In them, Roux stated that Saru would not allocate an upcoming Test match between South Africa and New Zealand to the Newlands rugby stadium.”
A Saru spokesman yesterday told the Daily Voice: “We strongly deny the allegations emanating from Aerios.
“Given the nature of these claims, the matter is now being dealt with by our legal team and we will respond to any further communication from Aerios through the appropriate legal channels.”
WPRFU, meanwhile, adds: “We have not received any claim from Aerios as yet.
"If any such claim is forthcoming we shall deal with it in the appropriate forum.”