Team Sky to become Team Ineos on 1 May as Ratcliffe steps in
A deal for Ineos, the UK industrial firm that is the country’s largest privately-owned company, to take over Team Sky, the professional road cycling team, will kick in from 1 May.
Ineos will become the sole owner of Tour Racing Limited, the team’s holding company.
Team Sky said that Ineos “will continue to fund the current team in full, honouring all existing commitments to riders, staff and partners.”
The launch of Team Ineos is scheduled to take place at the Tour de Yorkshire, which starts in Doncaster on 2 May, while the practicalities of the transfer “are subject to further discussion” with the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, the team added.
Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and chief executive of Ineos, said: “Cycling is a great endurance and tactical sport that is gaining ever more popularity around the world. Equally, cycling continues to mushroom for the general public as it is seen to be good for fitness and health, together with easing congestion and pollution in city environments. Ineos is delighted to take on the responsibility of running such a professional team.”
Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive of Sky, the pay-TV broadcaster that launched the team over 10 years ago, said: “We are pleased that the team’s future has been secured under new ownership. This brings to a close Sky’s decade-long involvement with cycling, which has created unprecedented success and inspired millions more people to cycle regularly.”
The Ineos offer was preferred to one in which Team Sky would have transformed itself into a Colombian team, with Ecopetrol, the Colombian oil company, taking on the role of main sponsor from 2020, according to reports.
Team Sky’s budget is said to be about £30 million ($39 million) a year, which had been regarded as difficult to replace, albeit Comcast, the new owner of Sky, was reported to have offered to supply 70 per cent of the team’s budget in 2021.
However, that budget is dwarfed by Ineos’ involvement in a bid by Ben Ainslie, the former Olympic gold medallist, to win sailing’s America’s Cup in 2021, which it is funding to the tune of £110 million.
The other sporting interests of Ratcliffe include ownership of FC Lausanne-Sport, which competes in Switzerland's top soccer league.
Sky shocked the cycling world in December by announcing that it would withdraw from its sponsorship and ownership of Team Sky at the end of 2019, after a highly successful 10-year spell in which it won it won six Tour de France titles and helped transform the image of the sport in the UK, albeit the team also became embroiled in damaging doping allegations.