2.7 million Euro debt forces Italian Federation to make drastic budget cuts

Financial woes and politics hit hopes for 2020 World Championships in Vicenza

The Italian Cycling Federation is facing cuts to its successful track programme and higher licence and race fees after debt of 2.7 million Euro – a fifth of the annual budget – was discovered by external auditors, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reports.

The Italian national team's victories include Elia Viviani's gold medal in the Omnium at the Olympic Games in Brazil last year. This season the team won several medals on the track at the recent European Championships and on the road at the World Championships in Bergen. However, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has forced Italian Federation President and UCI Vice-President Renato di Rocco to impose cuts and increase fees to cover the debt, describing cycling's financial position as 'the worst, along with that of equestrian sport, in the whole Italian sports system.'

"The official auditors moved part of the budget and called for immediate refinancing. Under the Italian civil code we could act differently but the Italian Olympic Committee won't listen to us," Di Rocco explained to Corriere della Sera.

"We'll activate an business plan to reduce the debt but they will have to help us, as they've done with other Federations."

Corriere della Sera suggested that the CONI has asked the Cycling Federation to freeze the funding of its track team. An Italian squad of 16 riders is due to compete in the UCI World Cup in Poland at the weekend, with others expected to compete in Manchester on November 10-12. However, the 2018 budget is at risk.

The Italian Cycling Federation has 82 full-time staff and over 100,000 licence holders but it is almost totally state funded via the CONI. Most gran fondo events are organised by other non-Olympic Federations and the Federation does little to promote non-competitive cycling.

According to a report by the Il Sole 24 Ore financial newspaper, the Italian Federation had an income of 16.2 million Euros (8.2 million from the CONI, 5.7 million from fees and 1.3 million from sponsorship). 4.6 million of this was spent on national team training and racing. Corriere della Sera suggests it had sponsor income of just 100,000 Euros in 2017.

Political woes for Vicenza's World Championship bid

On Tuesday it emerged that the private organisers of Vicenza's bid to host the 2020 World Road Race Championships have obtained further time (until the UCI management meeting on February 2) to complete their bid and secure state financing but are struggling to garner any backing from the Italian government.

However, with elections in Italy scheduled for next spring and a recent referendum on regional autonomy held in the Veneto region, politics could derail Vicenza's hopes of hosting the World Championships. The lack of other candidates for 2020 could also hurt the UCI, with income from World Championships organisers a vital part of its annual budget.

Di Rocco and the Italian Federation was part of the organisation of the Florence World Championships in 2013 and recently settled outstanding debts, paying a string of suppliers through a 60 per cent credit agreement.

"It's up to the Veneto organisers to find the funds for their event, not us," Di Rocco said of the Vicenza bid headed by rider agents Claudio Pasqualin and Moreno Nicoletti.

"I'm not surprised the government is cold towards them. Veneto has chosen an autonomous line and so asking for central funding for events doesn't make sense."

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