The tug-of-war for the services of Lionel Mapoe between the Cheetahs and the Sharks will now be contested in the Bloemfontein High Court
Simnikiwe Xabanisa writes for the Sunday Times that the Cheetahs have subpoenaed both Mapoe and the Sharks to appear in court on Thursday in a bid to force the player to comply with arbitrator Bertus van Rhyn’s ruling that his contract with the Bloemfontein-based team is binding.
Mapoe, who moved to Durban after the Sharks started the wrangle by offering him a much-improved contract, has defied the order by continuing to live and train in the city.
Cheetahs boss Harold Verster said the court interdict was aimed at getting the Sharks to “get their hands off the man”, and getting the winger back to the Cheetahs.
“We successfully defended our contract in the arbitration and he was told to come back, but he refused,” said Verster. “Lionel said under oath that if the arbitrator told him to come back to us he would. Now I see he’s changed his mind.
“The Sharks must get their hands off him and stop paying him to stay in Durban.”
Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl said they were going to defend the high court action, their defence being that the matter is a labour dispute between Mapoe and the Cheetahs.
“Lionel is citing irreconcilable differences with his employers and exploitation over a three-year contract which was not properly explained to him and his father, who is a carpenter,” said Van Zyl.
Verster bristled at this, saying “all that stuff was dismissed as nonsense at the arbitration, it was kicked into touch. He was paid correctly in terms of his contract”.
According to his contract, Mapoe, who is 22, was getting paid R10000 a month at the Cheetahs, having started on R6000 and graduated to R8000.
Verster, who let slip that he believed the Sharks were now paying Mapoe a salary of R100 000 a month, was adamant that “there is no discrimination story here”.
“We increased his salary even before he complained. He is the highest-paid under-21 in our province. We haven’t got the money of the Sharks and the Bulls, but it’s a lot of money by our standards.”
The irony is that when the sheriff of the court served papers on the Sharks, they were talking to the Cheetahs about whether they were prepared to accept a transfer fee for Mapoe.
Verster said a transfer was possible – but only if the Sharks were prepared to pay a huge sum: “The way they have treated this whole issue has left us reluctant to negotiate .
“They must come up with a huge figure. They must tell us how much he’s worth to them because we have to replace him. Getting a player of that calibre will easily cost us R1.5 million.”
Asked if that was how much the Cheetahs wanted for Mapoe, Verster said: “No, we want even more than that.”
The Sharks are said to be prepared to pay about R800 000.
Mapoe’s agent, Jan-Harm van Wyk, said he was not prepared to comment on behalf of the player until the issue was resolved.Tweet