Cairo Howarth (centre) handles a face-off between EFC fighters. Howarth is confident the Highbury liquidation application will be unsuccessful. Photo: EFCWorldwide.
Cairo Howarth (centre) handles a face-off between EFC fighters. Howarth is confident the Highbury liquidation application will be unsuccessful. Photo: EFCWorldwide.

EFC denies claims of money owed to Highbury Media

By Julian Kiewietz Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Highbury Media will apply for the Extreme Fighting Championship’s liquidation this month.

According to a reliable source, the media company will take action against Africa’s premier mixed martial arts brand after the EFC allegedly failed to respond to communications - pertaining to monies owed - over a period of time.

“Highbury gave the EFC chances to repay the money but I am told that all communication and legal letters have been ignored and that Highbury‘s only recourse is to ask the Cape Town High Court to liquidate the business,” says the source.

“I have been told that EFC owes millions that haven’t been honoured in loans to be paid back and that Highbury Media (a primary investor) has initiated legal action.”

Highbury Media’s legal advisor, Tracey Stewart confirmed that legal proceedings are underway.

“We have consulted with our attorneys who have been instructed to proceed with drafting the liquidation papers.”

It is understood that EFC and Highbury Media penned a commercial deal in the last quarter of 2019. While a source claimed that the contract included a “30 percent shareholding for Highbury Media in the EFC based on a commercial partner deal” Independent Media cannot confirm the full details yet.

“The terms of our agreement with EFC are confidential but the liquidation papers will be public record once issued, “ says Stewart.

EFC president Cairo Howarth vehemently denied claims of money owed to Highbury Media which is home to brands such as SA Rugby Magazine and Popular Mechanics.

“If Highbury are claiming that EFC owes them money, it is not true. Highbury actually owes EFC over R200 000,” says Howarth.

“Any company can apply for a liquidation order against any other company, even if they have no chance of success, which would be the case here if Highbury is really intending to do so.”

The EFC has been through rough waters pre and during (just like so many other brands) the Covid-19 pandemic. Cases of contractors venting their frustration regarding outstanding payments have been in the open, however, the EFC have been transparent about that situation stating that the organisation is “under financial pressure” and that they are “working on resolving these issues.”

With regards to Highbury Media, Howarth feels it could possibly just be an attempt to tarnish the EFC brand.

“Why did Highbury inform the media that they intend to apply for a liquidation order against EFC instead of just doing it? What benefit is Highbury trying to achieve? I would presume that Highbury just hopes to use the media to slander EFC's name, as they know that if they do actually apply for liquidation, they will lose the case and there will be nothing further. The truth will come out very soon,” adds Howarth who confirmed that “Highbury (or any related entity or person) does not own any equity in EFC.

“If they say otherwise, they are lying. Ask them to provide proof, it is easy enough to provide proof of company shareholding.”

EFC vice president of talent and matchmaker, Graeme Cartmell confirmed that: “We are very busy in the background planning something very big for the MMA market. We are looking at hosting an event probably in April.”

The last time an EFC event was held was on March 14, 2020 just before the pandemic and subsequent lockdown came into full effect.

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