Potential rifts in the takeover deal between the Manuela Fundación and the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team deepened considerably on Wednesday as the Spanish NGO responded sharply to Gerry Ryan’s insistence that he still owned the team licence and that he was still negotiating with other sponsors.
Emilio Rodríguez, the Manuela Fundación’s head of sport, told Spanish state news agency EFE that he was "surprised" and "frozen" by the comments.
"We have been caught offside, but this will sort itself out" Rodríguez said, using a football-inspired metaphor to suggest that Ryan’s comments had caught his organisation wrong-footed.
"We've come into this team to be owners, not just a sponsor."
Rodríguez said he had been surprised by the second dramatic development at Mitchelton-Scott in less than a week – the first being the supposed takeover itself – claiming that an agreement between the two teams over the change of owner had been signed on June 5, and that it was 'to be respected'.
"They'll know why they said that, but we agreed to form part of the GreenEdge company" – which owns Mitchelton-Scott – "from that day onwards."
The team is expected to race as the Manuela Fundación from July 1, while Shayne Bannan, the Mitchelton-Scott general manager, is due in Granada next week to discuss the logistics of the deal.
On Wednesday, Ryan said that he still owns the team license, and that the announcement of the sponsorship deal had been premature. Rodríguez, however, had a different view.
"We agreed we were the owners, and that as from January 1, 2021, we would also own the licence once all the paperwork had been handled by the UCI," Rodríguez said.
"We came in to save the team, but with our own conditions."
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