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Confusion and uncertainty mounts over who owns Mitchelton-Scott

Joe Robinson
18 Jun 2020

Contention reigns over the reported takeover of the Australian men's and women's team

Confusion and uncertainty are mounting over the mystery takeover of the Mitchelton-Scott team by Spanish non-profit organisation Manuela Fundación.

Last week, it was announced by team manager Gerry Ryan that the Australian team would be renamed Manuela Fundación for the remainder of the 2020 season as the Spanish company took over as primary sponsor of the team.

Ryan also said that the new financial backing, spearheaded by businessman Francisco Huertas, would help 'ensure our future in 2021 and beyond'.

However, Ryan has muddied the waters of the deal by telling Australian cycling magazine Ride Media that he still remains in control of the team and that 'there’s certainly no ownership changes at this stage'.

To further confuse the matter, Manuela Fundación's sports director, Emilio Rodriquez, has since told Spanish media outlet EFE that the Spanish non-profit organisation now owned the team.

'It leaves me frozen, because they are not right. An agreement was signed on 5th June and it needs to be complied with. They will know why they say that, but we agreed to join with GreenEdge from that day on,' said Rodriquez.

'We came in to be the owners, not simply a sponsor. We agreed we were the owners, and that as from 1st January 2021, we would also own the licence once all the paperwork had been handled by the UCI. We came in to save the team, but with our own conditions.'

While the back-and-forth over the semantics of who owns the team may seem amusing to observers, it'll be no laughing matter for the riders and staff of the men's and women's teams givent that it places an unwanted question mark over their futures.

Both squads have reduced salaries by as much as 70% during the coronavirus pandemic due to the enforced pause to the season.

These cuts affected all riders from team leaders Annemiek van Vleuten and Simon Yates all the way down to the domestiques and first-year pros. 

Talking to Cyclist last month, Van Vleuten said she hoped that by accepting the pay cuts, it would help ensure the future of the team.

'It’s not nice to be World Champion and get a pay cut,' she said at the time. 'I hope by taking the pay cut we will be able to keep the team alive and the team will continue which is the most important thing.'