IN a sensational development in the unfolding Phumelela Gaming & Leisure Limited Business Rescue saga, UK bookmakers Betfred, owned by billionaire Fred Done and his brother Peter, have made a binding offer of between R875 million and R925 million for all of the assets.

Sporting Post reports that Betfred is willing to make a loan of R650 million available. This should result in all creditors of the beleaguered entity receiving 100% of their claims. In addition, shareholders may receive value through the Betfred Offer.

To back up their loan offer, Betfred will encumber 20 million shares in William Hill, valued at R700 million.

In the original plan, it was stated MOD (Mary Oppenheimer Daughters) had provisionally acquired the horse racing assets and business from the embattled company – without mention of the head-to-head contest with Betfred.

Approval of the newly published modified business rescue plan, which brings Betfred into the public domain, will depend on the outcome of a Creditors meeting to be held electronically on the Zoom platform on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 at 11h00.

There have been strong rumours in racing circles that Rian du Plessis and John Stuart, former CEOs at Phumelela, have been driving the resistance against MOD alongside Gold Circle, but GC Chairman, Neil Butcher, vehemently denied this to Turf Talk last week.

Butcher said: “The rumour is unfounded. We had no communication with Betfred prior or during the BRP process. We have no knowledge of Rian du Plessis’ involvement. We chatted last week to John Stuart in regards our shareholding in PGI on the Isle Of Man.”

An insider at Tellytrack noted that Stuart has been “walking around Tellytrack like he owns the place”. He was spotted at a going-away party for a departing staff member recently, loud, smiling and having a jolly good time at a function where drinks were served, before the lockdown was relaxed.

Betfred’s continued lively interest in acquiring SA racing is quite mind-boggling, considering the spriralling economic decline, a reduced market share for racing and poor governance of the country itself.

Betfred’s focus is arguably on establishing themselves as a leader in the ever-growing African sports betting market, with racing being the poor, assisting stepsister, like it was for those who (mis) managed Phumelela.

There are undoubtedly associates within South Africa fuelling Betfred’s efforts, and we are set for a few weeks of rough speculation ahead of a likely final, bloody war for the ultimate prize.

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