Equipe Paule Ka intend to open their bank guarantee for the second time this season after new title sponsor Paule Ka appear to be behind in its payments to the team.
According to a report in CyclingTips, an individual close to the team who wished to remain anonymous said that team owner Thomas Campana indicated that the team is in danger of folding.
The riders on the team were reportedly issued a notice from the team on WhatsApp Monday regarding the opening of the bank guarantee.
"We have a bit of a tricky situation as there is a delay to the payment from the sponsor and Thomas [Campana] needs to open up the Bank Guarantee in order to pay the salaries this month. I will attach the document here and I will also email it to you. Please return ASAP, this is really important if we want to get paid quickly this month. Thanks."
Cyclingnews reached out to Equipe Paule Ka for comment regarding title sponsorship and the team’s request to open the bank guarantee for a second time this year, however, they are unable to respond at this time.
"At the moment we're unable to provide answers to the questions," said a representative of the team.
However, the team told Cyclingnews that Campana did not indicate to the team that it was folding, and that the WhatsApp message was not issued by him.
The French clothing brand, Paule Ka, stepped in to sponsor the team after the previous sponsors Bigla and Katusha withdrew funding amid the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In April, Bigla informed the team that they wished to withdraw 100 per cent of funding, with the Katusha clothing brand also temporarily struggling to pay sponsorship money citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business.
Subsequently, the team launched a crowdfunding appeal and raised CHF 7,999, and accessed their UCI bank guarantee in order to pay rider and staff wages for April.
The bank guarantee is a percentage of the team’s overall budget. It acts as a pre-season deposit consisting of 25 per cent of the team's payroll which can be accessed in times of financial difficulty – and make up the payment shortfall.
As a UCI Continental Team that is registered in Switzerland, those funds are held with the Swiss national federation, which would deal with any request for seizure. In April, the team worked with the UCI and Swiss Cycling in order to unlock a bank guarantee to pay rider salaries.
In June, the team announced the arrival of Paule Ka on a contract-deal that would secure funding for the team through 2024. The team was re-branded and began racing under the sole title name Equipe Paule Ka on July 1. At that time, Campana stated that the team intended to seek a WorldTeam licence in 2021.
"[Paule Ka sponsorship] will provide our sport with a platform to showcase the beauty of cycling in a unique and modern way," Campana said in June. "With this partnership, the team will also be opening a new chapter. We are seeking a WorldTour license, and will be developing a masterclass project, in which we will be able to keep furthering the potential of the athletes that have gone through our development program."
The team has had success under the Paule Ka brand with a stage win at the Giro Rosa, along with winning the best young rider competition, and the team had podium performances at Strade Bianche and GP de Plouay.
Although the arrival of Paule Ka was expected to secure the long-term future of the team, they are now struggling to pay their riders’ salary and their future appears to be uncertain.
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