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Western Force unsettled as ARU takeover looms

Western Force unsettled as ARU takeover looms

The Western Force are facing a cash crisis similar to the Southern Kings, which may see the Australian Rugby Union in a takeover of the Perth-based Super Rugby franchise.

The Force have battled to attract crowds to his nib Stadium home ground in recent seasons amid a slump on the pitch. They have won just two out of 11 matches and are languishing at the bottom of the Australian Conference with 11 points.

That is the third-lowest in the entire competition, with just the Sunwolves from Japan (nine) and the Kings from Port Elizabeth (four) with fewer points.

Fox Sports in Australia reported this week that the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Bill Pulver arrived in Perth this week to sort out the last few issues before the ARU officially takes over the Force, with an announcement expected next week.

This outcome will see Force chief Mark Sinderberry report to the ARU instead of the Force board, while a number of players are coming off contract at the end of the season and may have to look for a new team.

Force coach Michael Foley is also under pressure to hold on to his post, with rumours that outgoing Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder may head west to Perth.

Force scrumhalf Alby Mathewson is one of those players looking over their shoulder as he has a unique contract as a marquee international player.

“I know there’s a few boys off contract, and it affects everyone differently,” New Zealander Mathewson told Fox Sports.

“The ARU talked to us a couple of days ago. Bill Pulver was over here trying to shed some light on the situation. Hopefully, in the next week or so there’s a lot more clarity, because there’s quite a few other players wondering what’s going on with that sort of stuff.

“I’ve been here for four years now, so I’m pretty settled,” Mathewson said. “But I understand the way rugby works with contracts and moving around. So I’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Kings were also bailed out by SA Rugby ahead of this season’s Super Rugby competition, with the national body running the franchise on its own.

But the Kings have reportedly secured sponsorship from a UK company that is set to be announced in the near future as part of their business rescue plan to avoid liquidation.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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