Suspended Golden Lions Rugby Union coach John Mitchell's employment saga has taken a new twist as he says he does not want to join Sale Sharks but wants to stay in South Africa.
Mitchell released a statement through his management company stating that he has been found not guilty of various charges of misconduct which were levelled against him and there were six charges against him that were dropped by the Lions.
Mitchell has been suspended for over three months and whilst he has been suspended the Lions have lost their place in Super Rugby for 2013 and Mitchell has been included on a Rugby Strategy Management board with English Premiership club Sale Sharks.
Mitchell's enquiry into the charges laid against him by the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) was chaired by an independent legal expert Mr. Peter Bam.
"Even though John has been cleared of these particular allegations, the GLRU, through its lawyers, is not prepared to release details to John or his lawyers," said Mitchell's management, The Fordham Company.
"That's pretty amazing considering the damage that this action taken by the GLRU has done to John's reputation and brand. "
"Furthermore, the GLRU's lawyers have advised John's lawyers that they are not prepared to release the findings and recommendations pertaining to the remaining nine charges brought against John unless John agrees to sign a confidentiality undertaking. "
"One would have to question why this information is being withheld".
Mitchell's lawyers Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs continue to press the GLRU's law firm Erasmus Inc for full disclosure and have also threatened to make an urgent application to the Labour Courts in order to secure the findings and recommendations.
Mitchell says that he wants to be re-instated as Golden Lions coach and states that he has no intention of taking up employment with Sale Sharks despite attending matches and being included on the Sale Sharks board.
"I want my head coach position back at the Lions," Mitchell told Sport24.
"There is some unfinished business to do with the Lions."
"Furthermore, I am determined that my future will be in South Africa".
As Mitchell has already been named on a Sale Sharks board and the Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Brian Redpath has been demoted to Head coach opening up a space for Mitchell (or another) the recent developments have led to speculation that the latest statements are a ploy for an increased settlement from the GLRU and thereafter he will join Sale Sharks with his name being cleared.
Sale Sharks have not yet released a statement regarding John Mitchell but the Lions have confirmed that the internal disciplinary hearing between them and Mitchell have concluded in a statement.
"In terms of the independent chairperson's findings and recommendations, the GLRU will engage John in discussions which by the nature of the employment relationship are private and confidential and cannot be disclosed."
"Further information will only be made available once the parties have met and agreed on a joint media release".