In an interesting move, Stephen Saad, Chairman of The Sharks (PTY) Ltd, has felt the need to issue a statement saying they still back their new CEO John Smit.
The following statement was issued on Friday:
I thank you for your interest in The Sharks. Although one may wish to discretely follow a chosen strategy, I do believe The Sharks to be public property and the public are deserving of clarification of major decisions made.
The Board has resolved to appoint John Smit. John is a legend of South African Rugby. It was felt that the Board could assist in the commercial running of the business but needed a CEO who truly understands the engine room of rugby. The reality, we are all acutely aware of, is regardless of commercial success, the public barometer of success by which The Sharks are measured, is winning.
We felt that John would not only stand the best chance of achieving these objectives but also felt that his presence and leadership will provide a conducive environment to inspire and guide all stakeholders. John enjoys the unanimous support of the entire Board.
We recognise too that John may not have all the commercial experience yet. We have a Board and a management team to guide him in these areas. Our advice to John was, listen carefully before acting and at all times be honest and transparent. Recent actions may seem to contradict the advice given. However, the actions taken were not malicious and are explained below.
John Plumtree, who has served The Sharks with both loyalty and much success and, not withstanding that he has a contract until the end of 2013, he needed certainty on his future beyond that. He informed The Sharks that he had been approached with other options to consider and personal issues viz schooling that needed addressing.
The easiest decision and the line of least resistance for John Smit to take would have been to say “He needed time”, he could have delayed his call for months until he was entrenched as CEO.
However, consistent with both his own integrity and the Board’s guidance on Honesty and Transparency, he grasped the nettle and did not opt for the expedient approach. This approach was also in part accelerated by comments attributed to Nick Mallet and then taken to end further destructive speculation.
John Smit, has a vision on how he wants to run The Sharks and the Board cannot ask him as CEO to take accountability and then choose his team for him. These are really tough decisions and are never clean cut. John Smit has had the benefit of playing under both coaches and rates them both highly. The intensity of the debate is a positive reflection of the performance of John Plumtree. John Smit is our chosen leader and a man of substance. He has made his choice and I can only ask Shark supporters to get behind him and the team as our season unfolds.
A further issue, I would like to address is the Liquor Board matter.
Contrary to some public opinion, The Sharks are working actively in trying to reach an acceptable conclusion here. We would like things to remain as they were but we need to act responsibly and acknowledge:
We have had a tragic death at our stadium. Irresponsible abuse of alcohol is a scourge in our society and it will not be encouraged in our stadium.
The Liquor Board has a duty to make sure that the above areas are properly addressed.
We are engaging with the authorities. We sense your frustration, but given the magnitude of the issues, we cannot promise overnight resolution. We can tell you that the authorities to date, have not been obstructive but driven by a sincere desire to find solutions that address both safety and the need for responsible drinking particularly given the family environment that we wish to retain at KINGS PARK.
Change is always traumatic. There is no easy way to deal with change. However, The Sharks are in a new era. We, the Board, are positive that the changes made, will with the passing of time, be shown to build on the solid platform created at The Sharks.
Thank you for all the support, interest and loyalty, you have demonstrated to The Sharks. John and team, through both their performance and conduct, will endeavor to repay this loyalty to you both on and off the field.
Chairman of The Sharks (PTY) Ltd