UCI could step in as Bergen continues to struggle with World Championships debt

The UCI could step in and hand the Norwegian Cycling Federation (NCF) a partial fee waiver for hosting the 2017 Road World Championships as the organisers continue to struggle to balance the books and the threat of bankruptcy continues to loom.

The 2017 Worlds in Bergen were widely hailed as a success, attracting huge crowds, but a grim financial picture soon emerged in the aftermath.

The organisers confirmed to Cyclingnews in late September that they had spent significantly more than their budget of 135 million NOK (approximately €14m), with one Norwegian newspaper suggesting the final bill could be as much as 220m NOK.

At the time, they insisted it would take two or three weeks for the extent of the damage to become clear, but two-and-a-half months on, the organisers are still "working intensively to minimise any eventual losses," according to a statement Tuesday from the UCI.

"Bergen 2017's final situation depends on certain outsourced services, the results of which are still being finalized," read the statement.

"The difficulties are due inter alia to a weakening of the Norwegian Krone against the Euro since 2014, additional costs associated with the challenging global security environment and significantly increased public requirements."

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As the financial hangover became apparent in the week following the Worlds, the NCF found support from an unlikely source – a fan-based crowdfunding campaign that raised more than 3.5 million NOK. That, however, was a drop in the ocean, and the NCF was preparing to go to the Norwegian government – already a significant investor – for extra funds in order to stay afloat.

In its statement, the UCI says it suggested it could step in to help reduce the damage. The Road World Championships is the UCI's flagship event and by some distance its greatest source of income. Bergen was charged a €7 million licensing fee to host the Worlds this year. A failure to pay it off immediately and in one go, instead of hedging against foreign exchange fluctuations, has been cited as one of the many reasons for the current situation.

"Bergen 2017 and the NCF are engaging with other local stakeholders to find an optimal solution, and the UCI, as Bergen 2017's largest creditor, will seek to minimise any negative impact on all creditors," read the statement.

The organisers explained to Cyclingnews in September that the event had an impact and benefit to the region that "you cannot put in the accounts", and the UCI’s statement, before it mentioned the financial uncertainties, struck a similar tone.

"Initial TV viewing figures show that the 2017 UCI Road World Championships were the most-watched in history and the preliminary results of an independent study show 97 per cent satisfaction with the event, with 80 per cent of visitors likely to return to Bergen in the future," read the statement.

"Bergen 2017, the UCI and the NCF acknowledge the significant contribution made by the City of Bergen, the Province of Hordaland and other authorities, and are confident that the final report of the study will demonstrate an unprecedented economic benefit to the city, the region and the country."

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