Western Force fight could go to high court

first_imgBillionaire backer Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is considering all legal avenues and it is believed the Force are willing to exhaust all options available pending appeal rights, which could drag the saga out long enough for them to compete in the 2018 Super Rugby season.Super Rugby officials are nervously awaiting the outcome of the appeal hearing before finalising a draw for next year.However, if the Force pursue other avenues and are able to win an injunction against the ARU’s decision, the legal process could drag on for months and affect Super Rugby planning for 2018.Forrest launched a stinging attacking on the ARU on Wednesday, calling for chairman Cameron Clyne to resign. Forrest also released documents supposedly showing the ARU decided in February to axe the Force because they were the easiest legal option.Clyne rejected Forrest’s claim, saying the legal advice, which described the ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels as “high risk” and the Force as “low risk”, was only a small part of a bigger decision.Forrest also slammed the ARU’s process as a “charade”, accusing them of bullying and insisting his offer of A$50 million to save the Force was not too late.The NSW Supreme Court is likely to make a ruling next week on the Force’s appeal after the ARU axed the franchise on August 11.Forrest claimed the ARU made its decision six months ago, but dragged out the process and released a document to back up his point.”There is no legal obligation to retain the Western Force in the Super Rugby competition following a renegotiation of the broadcast rights,” the document read.”If the broadcast contracts are renegotiated with effect from the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season, the Alliance Agreement will automatically terminate at the end of the 2017 season and the obligation on the ARU to maintain the Western Force as a Super Rugby team in Perth will lapse at that point.”The document said the ARU would be breaching a participation deed if it attempted to cut the Brumbies or the Rebels.”If a negotiated exit is not achieved, an attempt by the ARU to terminate the Brumbies/Rebels participation deed without cause would constitute an unlawful termination,” the document read.Forrest, one of Australia’s richest men, lashed out on Wednesday, saying the documents prove the ARU always had the Force in its sights, which raises questions of how fair the process may have been.”The document I have, which I have released, came from caring members of the business community,” Forrest said. “It shows clearly that late in February this year the advice was received and taken to cut the Western Force for no other reason apart from legal advice. This is what I have stood up for, this is what I accuse the ARU of; of litigating, of lawyers and not leadership, of choosing not for merit but choosing to cut because they can bully a submission.”Clyne denied the claims.”Andrew referred to a document or documents which indicated that a decision had been made to remove the Western Force in February,” Clyne said.”This was not the case and there are no documents which contain this information.”RugbyWA has been provided several opportunities to put its best business case for the Western Force to the ARU board, from April 10 right up until our final request for this information on August 2, 2017.”I can only assume that Andrew has been provided with a document that contains some of the analysis that was undertaken by ARU management at the request of the board, to assess the many implications and considerations for exiting each of the three teams we originally assessed, which included the Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.”As we have previously announced, there was an extensive analysis conducted on each of these teams and one of the key issues we assessed was the legal risks associated with any decision to exit one of those teams.”These legal risks were factored into our decision, but the board still had options outside of legal avenues to pursue its course to remove a team.”Forrest also responded to comments made by ARU chief executive Bill Pulver on Tuesday. Pulver said the mining magnate had come to the table too late after tabling a $50 million offer to prop up the Force and assure the future of the code. Clearly frustrated by the comments, Forrest accused the ARU of bullying tactics and said he would not stop trying to save the Force.”I’m here to say to the ARU, you cannot bully this team, your ambush has been sprung, you have now been discovered,” Forrest said. “Chairman of the ARU, Mr Cameron Clyne, you’ve told me so many times that there was a broad spreadsheet of factors which were all based on merit, which were based on fairness and of course Australia now knows that was a charade. You received advice you could not cut the Rebels. “I ask you now to resign Mr Cameron Clyne. This has been discovered. The secret is now out. The process from here now must be transparent, we must all come clean.” Forrest disagreed that his generous offer to the ARU had come too late. “My message to the leaders of the ARU, Mr Bill Pulver, who I’m not holding to account, you’ve been an honest and faithful servant. But Mr Pulver and remaining ARU board … it is not too late. I’m in business. I know what too late looks like. I know what 11th hour looks like and I certainly know what bullies look like.”This is not 11th hour, this is not too late. Keep the Western Force, stop this legal charade, be transparent and let’s get on with building a fabulous sport in Australia and the code of rugby union across Australia and across the world.”Photo by: GETTY IMAGES Caption: Andrew Forrest says ARU chairman Cameron Clyne should resign over the Force being axed from Super Rugby.last_img read more