Will Team Sky’s search for a new owner be a significant moment for the sport?

Before the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia – the first Grand Tour of the year – Team Sky will have a new owner and will be in a position to announce it.

That’s the hope of Matteo Tosatto, sporting director of the British cycling team who have won six of the last seven Tours de France.

Because of the fact that Sky owns the cycling team – and doesn’t simply fund the outfit – that will make negotiations more complex. Instead of simply finding a principal sponsor for a team already in existence, Chris Froome’s team will have to find an owner too.

Dan Roan of the BBC reported that the decision to stop backing for the cycling team came from Sky’s Chief Exec Jeremy Darroch and was part of a ‘natural review of commercial partnerships after the £30bn takeover of the satellite broadcaster by media giant Comcast’, rather than having anything to do with controversies the team has been embroiled in over the past few years.

Because of the complicated nature of this, it’s hard to see it as an acid test for interest in cycling among big name sponsors. If such a dominant team can’t find a backer, you’d assume that the sport is in somewhat poor health, especially given the explosion of popularity that cycling has undergone, especially in Britain post-2012 Olympics.

At the same time, this isn’t a simple case of find a brand name to stump up some cash in return for their logo broadcast to millions of people throughout the Tour de France – and likely to be seen on the back of the maillot jaune during an iconic Alpine stage.

But this will be seen as a crucial juncture for the sport. If Sky’s time is up, that will level the playing field to a certain degree, changing the face of the sport ahead of the 2020 season. Sponsors, as always, will want a significant ROI but in a world where digital revenues are becoming a bigger metric for that. Does the sport have the digital presence to make that work?

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About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 810 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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