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The future of the Women's Tour is uncertain due to the liquidation of a British cycling promoter.
Cycling Sport

The future of the Women’s Tour is uncertain due to the liquidation of a British cycling promoter.

The outlook for the Women’s Tour, a prominent British race on the UCI Women’s World Tour, seems grim as its owner and promoter filed for liquidation on Thursday.

SweetSpot, the organizer of the men’s Tour of Britain and the Tour Series of city center races, has chosen KRE corporate recovery to handle its debt after voluntarily going into liquidation and acknowledging that its debts may exceed £1 million.

The British cycling community has received another setback as the Women’s Tour, which was scheduled for 2023, has been cancelled due to insufficient funding. Hugh Roberts, the company’s CEO, has expressed concerns about the future of the event, stating that the outlook is not promising.

The announcement of liquidation comes less than six months after SweetSpot assisted in organizing the UCI Super World Championships in Glasgow and two months after British Cycling revoked the company’s naming rights to the Tour of Britain due to a disagreement over unpaid fees. The governing body of cycling claimed that the amount owed was £750,000. Although SweetSpot stated at the time that they were working with legal teams to resolve the issue amicably, it was also reported by Cycling Weekly that the Isle of Wight council was taking legal action against the company for the cancellation of the final stages of the 2022 Tour of Britain, which was due to the passing of the Queen.

According to Roberts, the initial approximated amount of outstanding debt of £1m may actually be greater. It is believed that additional parties owed money include local law enforcement and service providers involved in the race. Despite the growing tension between SweetSpot and British Cycling, the organization stated in November that it is still dedicated to hosting the men’s Tour of Britain in 2024. More information is anticipated to be released at the end of this month, however, the fate of the Women’s Tour is uncertain as SweetSpot currently holds the event’s rights.

Roberts stated that rising expenses, the consequences of race cancellations amid the Covid pandemic, the passing of the Queen, and British Cycling’s stance in the disagreement over rights fees have all contributed to reaching this juncture.

Roberts explained that the idea of liquidation was first considered in July due to the financial strain caused by the Tour of Britain. However, they received interest from a potential title sponsor for both the men’s and women’s Tour, which encouraged them to continue with the race and attracted other sponsors.

After the talks fell through, Roberts acknowledged that it would be a difficult battle.

“The realization that we must make a decision based on what has truly occurred became clear. This marks the end of an era – 20 years of dedication and effort have led to this moment,” he stated.

Over the past few years, we have faced numerous challenges that have made it difficult for us to continue in our current business environment.

Roberts said: “The conditions that were set for us to extract ourselves from the position with British Cycling were too onerous.

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“Despite the untimely passing of the Queen and financial support from our partners, British Cycling remained adamant on receiving the entire 2022 licence fee they believed they were entitled to.”

Roberts acknowledged that SweetSpot may be at fault for accruing debt, but he also believed that British Cycling made a rash decision in terminating the license agreement.

The speaker expressed concern about the impact of Covid and the lack of races from September 2019 to September 2021, as well as the debt incurred to sustain the event. They mentioned the financial struggles faced by local councils and the need for budget cuts, which could negatively affect events that depend on government funding.

The statement, “British Cycling say they have a plan for the men’s Tour of Britain, but I don’t know what it is,” was made by an individual who also mentioned that there was no opportunity for negotiation and no grounds for appeal.

British Cycling has released a statement indicating their determination to host the Tour of Britain and a UCI Women’s World Tour stage race in 2024 and beyond. They plan to share more information in the following weeks.

Source: theguardian.com