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Team Sky certain to find new backer, says rival

The head of sponsorship at UCI World Tour outfit Team Movistar believes the future of rival Team Sky is secure, despite the failure of recent sponsorship talks.

On Monday, Team Sky general manager David Brailsford said talks with potential backers in Colombia were “very unlikely” to result in a new lead sponsor.

Speculation has also focused on new backers from the US and Israel since Sky Plc said in December it would discontinue its main funding role at the end of the 2019 season.

Industry insiders believe that the team, led by Brailsford, is too successful to fold.

Team Movistar’s chief marketing officer Juan Pablo Molinero told SportBusiness Sponsorship: “My common sense and my business sense says that for sure they will have a sponsor.

“They have riders under contract and operations planned for the mid-to-long term.

“Dave Brailsford is a very smart guy and knows how to do business – it’s just a question of timing and adjusting all the pieces of the puzzle.”

Molinero said it is in the best interest of cycling that Team Sky finds a new sponsor.

He added that inflation in the value of cycling team title rights stems from sponsorships by rich individuals or national interests rather than the few commercial sponsors, like Movistar and Sky.

Team Sky’s operating budget was worth £34.5m ($39.6m/$44.9m) in 2017, of which Sky contributed £21.5m.

A report last month in Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that Sky’s new owner Comcast could continue backing the team – without Sky’s name on the jersey – at 70 per cent of its current fee in 2020 and 2021, giving time for Brailsford to secure a deal.

Such a move has a precedent. SportBusiness Sponsorship understands that German telco T-Mobile exited its UCI team sponsorship in stages in the mid-2000s by reducing its commitment in stages.

A full report on Movistar’s s renewal as title sponsor of Team Movistar will be published by SportBusiness Sponsorship this week.

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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.