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Chinese cycling team aims to revolutionise sponsorship model

The project leader of a new Chinese cycling team wants to raise a bigger budget than the WorldTour’s Team Sky through a new investment model for sponsors.

Aiming to launch the team – known as GCP – in 2020, chief executive Tim Kay told the cycling press that he wants to “rock the boat in cycling in a positive way” and make it easier for WorldTour teams “to get big brand sponsorships…and for big brand sponsors to invest with long-term strategy”.

Kay plans on integrating the sponsorships with investment opportunities, like cycling-themed hotels, luxury city centre developments and athletic centres in China. Those profits would give investors some return and fund the team.

He would also allow rival teams and cyclists to invest in the China-based ventures. “If I bring in big companies, then other big brands will follow. The cyclists can invest in our investments, something riders can get involved in to follow up on after their careers,” he said.

Kay said he was familiar with China and how they like to invest and wants the team to produce a Chinese Tour de France winner by 2025.

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The partnership is understood to be a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and builds on AXA’s existing Global Partner agreement with Liverpool.

The deal is the largest ever sponsorship investment in UK women’s sport and comes less than a year after the league went fully professional in September 2018.

Under the five-year global deal, Oppo will become the first Official Smartphone Partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is officially known.

US sportswear brand Nike is paying about $7.5m (€6.7m) per year to sponsor China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), according to industry sources.