Team Sky report budget of £31 million in 2016

Release of accounts shows team's budget rose by 27 per cent

Team Sky has released its accounts for the calendar year 2016, showing that the team's budget for the 2016 season was in excess of £31 million, an increase of 27 per cent on the previous season's budget.

The accounts are published annually by 'Tour Racing Limited', the British-registered holding company for Team Sky.

Team Sky's budget for 2016 was £31,048,000, a significant increase on its 2015 budget of £24,442,000. The depreciation of the British Pound against the Euro may account for some of the increased costs in 2016, but it is clear, too, that team's overall financial commitment has increased decisively over the years. Team Sky's budget has now more than doubled since its first season in the professional ranks, when its budget was reported as £14.603 million.

The rise in Sky's 2016 budget is accounted for primarily by the sharp increase in sponsorship from its three principal backers: Sky UK Limited, 21st Century Fox and Sky Italia. Title sponsorship for 2016 reached a total of £23.5 million, an increase of 50 per cent on the 2015 title sponsorship of £15.7 million.

The precise breakdown of the sponsorship contribution of the three main backers is not specified, though the accounts state that Sky UK Limited owns 85 per cent of the team and 21st Century Fox owns the remaining 15 per cent. Sky Italia was initially a shareholder in the team, but is now simply a sponsor.

Sky's revenue from its 'performance sponsors', a group which includes bike supplier Pinarello, kit supplier Rapha and component supplier Shimano, also rose in 2016, from £2.96 million to £3.28 million.

Expenses paid by race organisers were grouped with unspecified 'other income' on the balance sheet, and the total dropped from £3.828 million in 2015 to £2.270 million in 2016.

Team Sky's wage bill was its biggest outlay, and it rose significantly in 2016, when the team signed Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Landa. Chris Froome also signed a new contract – reputedly worth £4 million a year – at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sky's total staff and rider costs for 2016 were £24.338 million, up from £17.982 million in 2015.

Sky's spend on sports science and research rose from £271,000 in 2015 to £305,000 in 2016, while its 'research' spend more than doubled, from £23,000 in 2015 to £52,000 in 2016. Sky's PR and marketing outlay dropped from £612,000 in 2015 to £425,000 in 2016.

The team's outlay on bike and performance equipment alone in 2016 stood at some £2.295 million.

The accounts note that Sky's average number of full-time employees in 2016 was 33 (up from 29 in 2015), though it is understood that many of its riders are paid as contractors rather than as full-time employees.

The 2016 season saw Chris Froome win Team Sky's fourth Tour de France in five years (in 2017, he won their fifth in six years), while Wout Poels won Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Sky's budget is believed to be the highest in the WorldTour, though not all teams are compelled, as Sky are by British law, to release their accounts. Speaking during the Vuelta a España, Froome defended the team against the charge that it had an unfair advantage.

"It is in some ways 'unfair' the support we have in general at Team Sky compared to other teams," said Froome. "But if you take that away, what do teams have to strive for? Why are you working harder? To win more races? To take that away, it's almost as if we are becoming communists."

Team Sky's 2016 accounts are available online here.

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