Vaughters wants Manchester United-style franchises in pro cycling

Posted on: November 5th, 2017

Vaughters wants Manchester United-style franchises in pro cycling

Unveiling his rebranded Cannondale EF Education First-Drapac team; Jonathan Vaughters says anyone with enough money should not be able to join the WorldTour.


Vaughters wants Manchester United-style franchises in pro cycling


Manager and owner in 2017 of the Cannondale-Drapac WorldTour team that almost folded at season end, Jonathan Vaughters says cycling needs soccer-style franchises.

The American managed to secure another sponsor, EF Education First, in time to save his team. That new backer made up the $7 million budget shortfall when promised sponsors fell through.

And now it continues as Cannondale EF Education First-Drapac.

But Vaughters says the team was just days from collapsing. And he has pointed to other situations where teams have not survived and suggested pro cycling’s business model must change.

Speaking at the Rouleur Classic expo in London, where his team’s new look was unveiled, he says cycling needs to learn from pro soccer. And if it did, he believed a stronger relationship would build between teams and fans.

“Over the past four, five years there has always been at least one or two World Tour teams that have collapsed,” he said.

“It’s something that cycling, as a sport, needs to address. “Structurally there is a problem that needs to be corrected.

“Fans of Manchester United or the Denver Broncos don’t worry about them just going away. It’s not something that fans are used to or can understand.

“There are a number of different ways to go about it. One is cost control, or financial fairness, which is what I call it.

“The other is creating a structure where franchises are guaranteed the biggest races such as the Tour de France.

“If there is a guaranteed entry into those races in the lifetime of the business, then at that point you have created a limited market, you have created scarcity.

“And when you create scarcity sponsors come in and gravitate towards that scarcity.

“What we have now is if you come up with £20 million you can start your own team, there is no scarcity of the commodity.

“It’s just a matter of who can scrounge up the money; whether they come up from a very disreputable source or a reputable source, it doesn’t matter.”

“The governance of the sport needs to say these are the 18, 20 or 22 teams that do the Tour de France and these are the ones that have the rights for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“That way you have sponsors fighting for limited positions in the market, instead of the inverse.”

Aside from his suggested Manchester United-style franchises for pro cycling, he said he was not a fan of salary caps.

Instead, he believes a pro cycling team’s entire budget needed to be capped.

“If you say every team is allowed, say $20 million, then you are playing chess and everyone is playing chess with an equal number of pieces.

“Everyone has one queen, two bishops, two rooks. Right now we have a situation with some teams having four queens and five rooks and others have one king and 18 pawns.

“That is not sustainable and in the long-term will dissuade sponsors from entering the sport.”

He added the decision of its star rider Rigoberto Uran to give the team time to find a new backer before looking for a new squad was instrumental in saving the team.

Vaughters said had Uran began looking for a new team immediately news of the possible collapse of Cannondale-Drapac emerged, a new sponsor would have been impossible to find.