Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Rumble in the city: Rollers Court trouble as Gobuiwang and Shah head for a showdown

A fierce conflict of wills is looming as the battle for the ownership of Township Rollers looks set to continue. In a scene reminiscent of the most iconic boxing matches in history, dubbed Rumble in the Jungle, the team’s two heavyweight financiers, Somerset Gobuiwang and Jagdish Shah, look set to face off in a fierce and vicious battle for the team ownership. For those not in the know, the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ was and still is the most a historic boxing event. This was a fight for the undisputed World Heavyweight Title between reigning champion George Foreman and former champion Muhammad Ali, with the latter seeking to reclaim the title he had lost after refusing to be drafted into the military to fight in Vietnam. While Ali in his pomp would have been a favourite to win the fight, this time around the odds were against him.

Ali was 32 years and had lost most of his movement, and this time around, he was facing a younger and most fearsome heavyweight champion in the world at the time. As such, there was a general fear that coming up against the hard-hitting Foreman, the ageing Ali, who had spent some time as an outcast in the boxing world would not make it out of the ring alive. Just like in the above mentioned fight, the two fighters in the Rollers ownership are both heavyweights, albeit at differing points in their careers. Gobuiwang, who has been sidelined by the team for a while, just like Ali, is seen as a ‘has been,’ a financially broke man who has no financial muscle to keep Rollers afloat but is keen to retain what he deems ‘his team.’ His nemesis, Shah, on the other hand is ‘Foreman’ in the Rollers ownership fight, a man flush with money, a heavy puncher and the man who is currently the favourite to win the battle.

However, just like Ali, Somerset, who has of late silently absorbed the concerted efforts to take him out of Rollers, is said to be planning to hit back. According to sources close to the besieged Gobuiwang, he is now more than ready to take the matter to the courts of law should he deem it necessary. “Gobuiwang has not been very pleased with the recent attack he has come under from some sections of the supporters as well as efforts through social media to take him out of Rollers. Throughout this campaign, he has kept silent but he now feels it is time to come out and set the record clear,” a source said. According to the source, Gobuiwang feels he was legally given ownership of Township Rollers and is willing to approach the courts to settle the matter. “While fully aware of the ruling by Justice Leatile Dambe, he feels that people at Rollers dealt with him deceptively by giving him the team then reneging on the agreement. His contention is that as per the resolutions passed on the 14th of April 2010, and signed by the then Rollers Chairman Spencer Mmui and Khumo Masonya, the status of the team was ceded to him and he is still waiting for the Rollers Executive Committee to amend the constitution to allow him to run the team,” the source said.

The news of a potential return to the courts of law will come as a blow to the fledgling negotiations with Gobuiwang’s former partner, now turned nemesis Shah. The tycoon investor, who wants to be Rollers’ sole investor, is said to have already informed the current committee that he wants a quick resolution to the current impasse. According to Rollers Public Relations Officer (PRO) Phempheretlhe Pheto, Shah has informed Rollers interim Committee in their recent meeting this past Wednesday that he will not hesitate to jump ship should no solution be found. “He informed us that as things stand, he has had a couple of approaches from various teams to come on board as an investor. He is just waiting on us to find a solution that will not be in contempt of Justice Dambe’s ruling,” Pheto said. On whether they are aware of Gobuiwang’s potential claim to Rollers ownership and the repercussions should he go to court, the Rollers PRO said the current Rollers interim committee is not too concerned about any legal or court procedures.

“Township Rollers is a society and there can be no sole ownership to such. We are also of the belief that if there was any agreement pertaining to Township Holdings or any other entity, it was nullified by Justice Dambe’s ruling and there is no case to answer on that as far as we are concerned,” the Rollers PRO said. He said even if that may be the case, they cannot confirm since Gobuiwang has refused to talk to the interim committee when they approached him as a potential sponsor prior to last week Saturday’s Special General Meeting. “When we approached him, he (Gobuiwang) refused to talk to us insisting that he wants to talk to Shah first so that they can resolve their issues. He made it clear that he wants all club reports for the duration that he was sidelined before any negotiations can start,” Pheto concluded. 

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper