Well, after hastily cancelling their press conference that was scheduled for yesterday, the Lions have confirmed that they have signed Lionel Mapoe. An announcement went up on their web site today, after Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster also came out if hiding to confirm that a deal has indeed been done.
There was a fair bit of smiling, backslapping and mutual congratulatory hugging dished out, as Harold, who is now seemingly on first terms with Lions backers Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz, praised the pair for the manner in which they handled the negotiations. As swipes at the Sharks go, it wasn’t particularly subtle, but that’s our Hard-up Harold just being himself. The Lions cash must have seemed like a gift from above to the broke Cheetahs, who had made a moral stand not to take any money from the Sharks, even though they knew deep down they really needed it.
While the unbridled joy down at the Coke Tank is enough to bring a tear to the eye, though, Zeena Isaacs of Business Day caught of with Frikkie Erasmus, the lawyer representing Mapoe and also one of Lions CEO Manie Reynecke’s ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE people in the whole world, after a string of high-profile and embarrassing court defeats over the last year. As far as Frikkie was aware, preparations were well under way to proceed with Mapoe’s appeal against Judge Corne van Zyl’s ruling that he should not be allowed to join the Sharks.
According to the Business Day article, Erasmus said that “everything was done under cover because as far as I am concerned we are still working on the appeal for the Sharks next week. This is a complex situation because even if the Cheetahs allow him to go to the Lions, he still has a contract with the Sharks, and since the Sharks have paid his salary for the past five months and put him up in accommodation, they could sue him if they want to.”
This one is far from over, methinks.
Two things are for absolutely bloody sure, though, in my opinion. Firstly, any union that TOUCHES this player now must be completely mad. It will, in fact, give me great pleasure when he walks out on his Lions contract too as soon as he receives a big-money European offer. Secondly, the Sharks have now wasted a lot of money chasing this one and while it would be very tempting to get involved in a petty follow-up suit here to try and recoup some costs, I doubt there’s any real moral high ground left in this situation. Better to walk away and spend Mapoe’s salary elsewhere.Tweet