With months worth of racing cancelled or postponed and several teams already announcing rider pay cuts, the professional teams organisation AIGCP made an appeal to the UCI in a letter sent via email on Tuesday asking for "extraordinary measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic".
AIGCP president Iwan Spekenbrink made the plea on behalf of the 19 WorldTour teams and 13 ProTeams to ensure the future of teams and the races they depend upon, calling on the UCI to allocate funds from the WorldTour Reserve Fund to help support riders as the pandemic has thrown the season into disarray.
Spekenbrink noted that teams' "high dependence on a very limited number of clients, i.e. sponsors (94% of total revenue), combined with high payroll obligations (80% for WorldTeams, 63% for ProTeams), make them especially vulnerable to the present crisis".
"Many teams have already lost significant revenue and all teams are facing the impending loss of (further) substantial revenue (1) if their sponsors run into cash-flow shortcomings in the likely event that the Covid-19 pandemic persists any longer and/or (2) if teams do not start delivering a return on investment (in terms of visibility and sponsorship activation) for their partners very soon."
The AIGCP held two conference calls with 32 men's professional teams to find common solutions to the problems they are facing and teams unanimously agreed the UCI could contribute to saving jobs "in these unprecedented times".
The first request was for the UCI to add flexibility to the regulations to allow teams to adjust wages through furloughs, pay deferrals, pay cuts or temporary unemployment without claims being made on the teams' bank guarantees and to allow for contracts to be amended to reflect the "extraordinary circumstances".
The teams also asked for adjustments to the 2021 registration process which normally includes strict requirements for contracts, minimum salaries, roster size, bank guarantees, etc and "any other temporary compromise which is conducive to saving a team and the jobs that it supports".
The AIGCP noted the importance of race results in the sporting aspects of team registration and called for a suspension of the 2020 classifications "which relates to the renewal/attribution of the next WorldTour licenses in 2023 and the automatic qualification of ProTeams (in WT events) in 2021".
They called for the rescheduling of "as many WorldTour races as possible", giving priority to Grand Tours and Monuments but also "smaller races too which are vital for ProTeams". To give as many riders as possible an opportunity to race and earn points, the AIGCP asked for extra teams and riders in races when the calendar resumes, more ProTeams in WorldTour races, and an extension into late November of the 2020 season.
"Finally, we hope UCI will join us in supporting allocations from the WorldTour Reserve Fund to WorldTeams in need and to potentially extend these to ProTeams as a gesture of solidarity," Spekenbrink wrote.
"It goes without saying that we also support coming to the aid of WorldTour and ProSeries organizers in similar circumstances.
"In closing, we cannot overstate the financial hardship that many teams are experiencing as of this moment or will soon be suffering. For the past 20 years teams have willingly submitted to increasing demands to accelerate their professionalization and the last thing we want is to undo any of those achievements.
"However, in order to safeguard these in the face of a crisis of unparalleled magnitude, we must temporarily reset our efforts to giving a lifeline to any team in need of one. Saving teams and jobs must be the priority today and on behalf of all teams which participated in last week's conference calls, we respectfully call upon your assistance."
Teams represented in call
- Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
- B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
- Bingoal WB
- Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
- Rally Cycling
- Riwal Readynez
- Team Arkea-Samsic
- Team Novo Nordisk
- Total Direct Energie
- Vini Zabu' KTM
- AG2R la Mondiale
- Astana Pro Team
- Bahrain McLaren
- CCC Team
- EF Pro Cycling
- Israel Start-Up Nation
- Lotto Soudal
- Movistar Team
- NTT Pro Cycling
- Team Ineos
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Team Sunweb
- UAE Team Emirates