Cara Waters
06:41, Jan 17 2020

Former Wallabies captain George Gregan has been accused of "cowardly and reprehensible behaviour" in legal proceedings involving a sports startup.

PTP Fitness founder Alexander Goldberg claimed Gregan and former Waratahs player Matthew Dixon "hatched a plan" to remove him from the business that sells fitness items including resistance bands, yoga mats and fit balls. Goldberg has brought legal proceedings in respect of that claim.

Gregan, Goldberg and Dixon are directors of Fitness Systems United, which trades as PTP Fitness and turns over about A$20 million a year.

PTP Fitness was started by Goldberg in 2010 and attracted an investment from his brother-in-law Dixon who became a partner in the business before bringing Gregan on initially as an ambassador for a fee of A$20,000 per year.

However, the relationship between the business partners fell apart with Goldberg commencing legal proceedings in the Supreme Court against Dixon and Gregan disputing the shareholders' agreement.

In that case, judgment was awarded in Dixon and Gregan's favour and costs ordered against Goldberg. Goldberg then launched separate proceedings in the Supreme Court against PTP, Dixon and Gregan claiming oppressive conduct, and Fitness Systems launched its own proceedings in the Federal Court against Goldberg claiming breach of directorial duties.

Goldberg's claims against Dixon and Gregan were outlined in a solicitor's letter sent in October last year and seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald which claimed the pair pushed him out of the startup he founded.

"Mr Dixon and Mr Gregan hatched a plan to get rid of Mr Goldberg and then to dilute his shares on a trumped-up charge of serious misconduct... when Mr Goldberg exposed Mr Gregan's breach of his endorsement agreement," the letter states.

Goldberg claimed Gregan breached his contract by endorsing the products of the startup's "main international competitor" TRX and increased his income from an ambassadorial fee to PTP to a salary of A$200,000 and a car allowance of A$12,500.

Goldberg claimed he was wrongfully terminated after Dixon and Gregan planned to "drop the hammer" on him.
"The manner in which Mr Dixon and Mr Gregan carried out their plan can only be described as cowardly and reprehensible," the letter states.

Goldberg was dismissed at 4.33pm on the day before Goldberg's partner was scheduled to give birth to a baby by caesarean section.

A company source who wished to remain anonymous said the dismissal process went for several months and was delayed at Goldberg's request.

The letter claims Dixon was suffering "severe stress and anxiety" at the time of the dismissal.

A spokesperson for Gregan and Dixon said they were defending the proceedings.

"As directors and shareholders of [PTP] Fitness Systems, George Gregan and Matthew Dixon have always exercised their powers and duties in the best interests of the company and in accordance with the law and responsible and ethical corporate governance. This will be demonstrated in the pending court cases."

A directions hearing in Australia's Supreme Court is listed for February 10, 2020.