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Team Sky's budget grew to £34.5m last year, accounts reveal

Peter Stuart
21 Sep 2018

Team Sky releases its annual accounts for 2017, revealing an £3.4m increase in budget, but no longer details expenses

Team Sky have published their annual accounts, revealing a considerable increase in the already substantial team budget, up to £34.5m for 2017, while the accounts have withheld information on the operating expenses divulged in previous years.

The accounts, published through Companies House, reveal figures for the Tour Racing Limited (Team Sky’s trading name) for the full year of 2017 – revealing an increase in budget (total revenue) from £31,084,000 in 2016 to £34,496,000 in 2017. 

Very few teams reveal their finances to such detail, but Team Sky’s figures have been published now as it is a legal requirement for UK companies to publish accounts within nine months of the end of the financial year.

Expenses unknown

In previous years Tour Racing Ltd has revealed details of its operating expenses - in 2016 this showed that £24m had been spent on ‘Staff and rider costs.’

No doubt this information may have proved useful in rival teams deducing the level of salary on offer from Team Sky, and it is no enormous surprise to see the information now withheld.

In 2016 this was the primary cost to Team Sky, followed by ‘Race costs (travel and accommodation)’ which came in at £2.1m and ‘Bike and performance equipment’, which came in at £2.3m.

There was some question as to where these equipment costs would have been spent, given that almost all of the necessary equipment would be provided by sponsors, but we can only speculate.

Growing budget 

The main change visible this year is in overall budget. Given that most other operating costs are likely to be similar, it seems reasonable to assume that a substantial portion of the extra £3m has been spent on increased rider salaries.

The portion of sponsorship money coming from the title sponsors - both Sky and 21st Century Fox has increased by just under £2m, but the proportion of money from other sponsors and other income has also increased substantially. 

'Performance sponsoship and other income' has gone from £5.5 to £6.7m – this could represent greater contributions from sponsors such as Pinarello or Castelli, or greater appearance fees and prize money.

Fox and Sky

The split of income between two major sponsors has changed very mildly. Where in 2016 Sky Plc paid £20.9m, they paid £21.5m in 2017.

Compared to 2016, 21st Century Fox increased from £2.5m to £3.8m in 2017. This suggests a proportionally greater input from 21st Century Fox in the last year – now accounting for almost exactly 15% of the value of the team.

Whether Fox’s share represents a different level of exposure or purposeful investment is difficult to gauge. This is complicated, as Team Sky is rather unusual amongst pro teams in that Tour Racing Limited is wholly owned by Sky Plc, whereas usually the teams exist as separate companies to their title sponsor. 

Fox is also the single biggest shareholder in Sky Plc, with 39.1% stake, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how this investment may represent some inner mechanics of accounting between the two companies.

The prospect of a total takeover by Fox of Sky Plc, which has dominated the financial headlines over the last year, coupled with the possible takeover of Fox by Disney could present numerous questions for the team’s future.

For now, the accounts reveal a very stable and very healthy funded team – most likely the best funded in the history of the sport.

The acquisitions of new riders over the last year, and the ability to keep hold of WorldTour stars such as Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas during the transfer window suggests they have just as much if not more money to spend over the next few seasons.