Athletics SA facing huge debt crisis

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James_Evans Gallo Images Athletics SA President James Evans.

Johannesburg – Athletics SA (ASA) has appointed a committee to address its financial crisis in the hope of servicing its R4.3 million debt.

“We do have a problem that has to be addressed and a committee has been set up to deal with it expeditiously,” ASA president James Evans said on Tuesday.

The committee was mandated to give feedback on possible solutions by December 21, he said.

The embattled federation was still reeling from financial problems it inherited from disgraced former president Leonard Chuene's administration.

ASA were stuck in a vicious circle as it was unable to secure a corporate sponsor until the federation's books were in a healthier state.

Sponsorship and funds from the National Lottery could only be used for athletics projects and not for servicing outstanding debt.

In the 2011 findings from the disciplinary hearing of Chuene, vice-president Kakata Maponyane and executive member Simon Dlamini, it was revealed ASA had gone from being profitable to incurring a large debt.

“The evidence shows, in effect, that from a positive bank balance of R500,000 in 2005, by the end of the financial year in 2008, ASA was in the red to the tune of R7 million,” advocate Norman Arendse, the chairman of the disciplinary inquiry panel, said at the time.

One of the options open to ASA was to sell the property they own in Houghton – which houses its head office – and move into more affordable premises.

However, board members were divided on whether or not the offices, which cost ASA R120,000 per month, should be sold.

Evans said they had managed to hold of some creditors and he was confident they would find a solution to the problem.

Creditors included athletes who were still waiting on outstanding prize money.

Meanwhile, ASA was still without a new sponsorship deal for track and field athletics after their partnership with Yellow Pages ended in May.

Evans said he hoped to get Yellow Pages involved again as they were a reliable sponsor with a good track record.

ASA was in the process of finding a replacement for recently-sacked chief executive Frik Vermaak.

Applications for the newly formed general secretary position closed last week. Whether or not they filled the position would also depend on ASA's financial position. – Sapa

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