The Spanish not-for-profit association Manuela Fundación has reportedly made an offer to Mitchelton-Scott owner Gerry Ryan to buy the team's WorldTour licence for €10 million.
According to Spanish newspaper AS, the offer was sent by email to Gerry Ryan on Thursday. The deal apparently includes the Manuela Fundación covering staff and rider wages for 2020, as well as the WorldTour licence itself.
The Manuela Fundación's two-week negotiations with Mitchelton-Scott team manager Shayne Bannan led to an agreement on June 5th, apparently regarding New Global Cycling Services, the team's satellite company based in Switzerland that handles the squad's logistical operations in Europe.
Then a bombshell press release a week later announced that the Spanish NGO was taking over the squad from mid-way through this season.
However, in a subsequent interview with Ride Media less than a week later, Ryan then insisted that the team licence remained his, and that the squad's future was still undecided.
Shortly afterwards, it was announced by the Australians that the takeover deal by Manuela Fundación was off. That was despite the Spanish already beginning to strip down the team vehicles of their former Mitchelton-Scott colours and, they said, a green light being received from the UCI for the new team kit. The Australians' communique also said that Ryan would back the team financially in 2021 as well as restoring full payment to staff and riders from August onwards.
However, former Giro d'Italia winner Stefano Garzelli, who was responsible for conducting negotiations on behalf of the Manuela Fundación, then told the Italian news outlet Cicloweb that "the company's transfer agreement is signed, it is valid, and we go on," and that the licence while remaining Australian for 2020, was to have been transferred over to the Spanish in 2021.
Yet more confusion was poured onto the uncertain situation when sources close to the team told Cyclingnews that the only agreement signed was a 'Heads of Terms' document that was designed to pave the way for a longer contract that would have covered all aspects of ownership and the all-important issue of the team's current WorldTour license.
In either case, undeterred by this setback, according to AS, an offer has now been made by Manuela Fundación owner Francisco Huertas directly to Gerry Ryan to buy the team's licence. As yet, apparently, there has been no answer. Cyclingnews attempted to contact the Manuela Fundación for their reaction to the story, but without success.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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