DURBAN – The beleaguered leadership of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has been hit hard by its former media partner, Highbury Media.
The company last Friday served court papers demanding that Sascoc be placed under liquidation due to its inability to pay debts that total R4.7million.
Highbury has been the media partner of Sascoc since 2009, but, in 2013, following the Beijing Olympics, its contract was extended to include the general media and communications services.
Also added was the publication of a quarterly print magazine and the design, development and management of the Sascoc website and digital platforms.
Highbury managing director, Tony Walker, said the payments stopped 10 months ago.
Walker added that the relationship started turning sour when Highbury refused a R3m beach volleyball sponsorship with former Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy.
The sponsorship did not have any ties to Sascoc and thus it was explained that Highbury could not justify involvement in such a sponsorship.
Reddy, who was dismissed last year, had formerly served as the president of Volleyball South Africa.
“The relationship, from the outset in 2009, was always good, until we (Highbury) expressed no interest in committing to a beach volleyball tournament in the Free State.
‘‘It was from then on that the payments slowed and the relationship broke down,” said Walker.
“It has now been about 10 months since they have paid. We have made every attempt to resolve the situation and to find a solution in the payment structure. Unfortunately, it has been in vain. We have had to retrench and lay off people ourselves and the money (R4.7m) is not insignificant,” said Walker.
Before it reached this stage, Highbury sent through a written demand for payment, but this was met with an attorneys’ defence, from the Interim Management Committee, stating that they “prima facie view the contracts B1-B3 (that of the above-mentioned services) are as an example of what the ministerial committee report identifies as wasteful expenditure and deficiencies in our client’s procurement of services”.
Highbury’s court papers state that their intentions are to show that six years of work under the current contract/s, 21 magazines, as well as website and social media management services, cannot be deemed wasteful.
The court date is set for March 13.
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