The Southern Kings have denied that they have agreed a ZAR40 Million pay off to stay out of Super Rugby until 2016 when the format can be reassessed.
An article in the Weekend Argus stated that the Lions would not be relegated in 2013 as the Southern Kings had accepted a pay off from he South African Rugby Union (Saru) to postpone their inclusion.
The Kings released a statement via their Twitter account saying, "The story going around we've taken money to stay out of Super Rugby in 2013 is NOT TRUE ! We will be playing Super Rugby in 2013."
Six Hours laters the Kings added, "The reported article in the Argus of the negotiated R40m comes as an absolute surprise to the Executive of EPRU Union" - Cheeky Watson"
The article said that "reliable sources close to the negotiations between Saru and the Eastern Cape franchise, the Kings have agreed to delay their entry into Super Rugby, in exchange for R40-million and guaranteed inclusion in the Currie Cup Premier Division from next year."
SARU announced in January that the Kings would participate in Super Rugby from next year but information on how they would fit into the 15 team format was not - and still - has not been given.
SANZAR (SA, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) who run Super Rugby have signed a five year deal with their broadcast partners on the current format which provides an agreed number of matches.
SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters has repeatedly stated that there can be no further expansions whilst the current agreement is in force.
"Sanzar have sold the current structure of Super Rugby to broadcasters and commercial partners for the period ending December 31, 2015, so until then, expansion of the competition is not possible," Peters said in February.
AS SARU have yet to explain how the Kings will fit in to the current format speculation has been rife but appears to have settled on the Lions being relegated to make way for the Kings.
The article states the the Kings have accepted the deal as they have been less successful that anticipated in signing players for next season.
If the article is correct then SARU face another battle in three years time as SANZAR would still need to agree on a format change if the Kings are to be included without any current teams dropping out as the current format balances three Geographic conferences of five teams each. Adding another one team would create an imbalance.
However if three teams were added then one could be added to each conference.
The problem with adding three teams is that only Taranaki in New Zealand have shown an interest in joining Super Rugby but with the current financial situation it is unlikely that the New Zealand Rugby Union would be willing to back another team essentially so that the Kings can be included.
Even if they did agree to back Taranaki a third team would still have to join in order for the conferences to remain balanced.
Another problem in adding three or even one more team would mean that the season would have to be extended as more teams would be playing each other and already players are complaining about the season being too long.