Unibet pull sponsorship dealWednesday, Sep 13, 2017 13:10
Only a few days after it was announced that American cycling team Cannondale-Drapac may not be able to compete in events next year due to the last-minute withdrawal of an expected sponsor the name of the company has been revealed. It’s believed that Unibet were the potential backer and although it hasn’t been officially announced the company has been named by a number of well-respected cycling news outlets such as Cycling Weekly and AD.nl.
Unibet and Cannondale-Drapac
Unibet had previously sponsored the Cannondale-Drapac team between 2006 and 2007. The deal was somewhat controversial and sparked a furious debate between the team owners and the Tour de France organizers ASO. It was argued that the Unibet sponsorship deal was against French gambling laws and ASO refused to allow them to participate in the Tour de France. As a result, Unibet withdraw their sponsorship of the team.
A Collapsed Deal
Despite their previous experience Unibet were initially happy to pair up with the team for the upcoming cycling season. Cannondale-Drapac CEO Jonathan Vaughters described the negotiations as being “a done deal – I mean, I thought we had an agreement”. Talking to Business Insider he added; “We were deciding on the uniform design and how the bus was going to look”. Images of these uniforms have since emerged with Unibet branding. Vaughters had been so sure of the deal going ahead that he had already offered contract extensions to a number of riders including Tour de France runner up Rigoberto Uran. However, when the sponsorship deal collapsed these contract offers were quickly withdrawn.
Unibet have yet to comment on the negotiations and the failed deal but Vaughters has tried to shed some light on why the deal may have fallen through. “The agreement always had this clause that said, unless there was the unanimous consensus at the board of directors meeting, the agreement could be terminated. We always knew there was a risk, and in the end, the consensus was not unanimous.”. Perhaps the Unibet bosses were weary of another cycling sponsorship deal after their previous agreement with the team ended so badly.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Left with no sponsor and with the new cycling season fast approaching the future of the Cannondale-Drapac team is in doubt. Vaughters has appealed for companies or individuals interested in backing the team to step forward. In a rather unusual step, the team has also turned to crowdfunding and the website Kickstarter in the hope that the team can raise the necessary funds to survive. Vaughters said that there’s a $7 million shortfall in the budget next year with the team aiming to work off a budget of $16 million.
Vaughters is in a race against time because the longer the fiasco goes on the more likely the team is to lose riders to their competitors. Rigoberto Uran has given the team a two-week ultimatum to gather the necessary funds or he’ll move to a rival team. However, Sep Vanmarcke has told the team he won’t be waiting that long and is currently looking for a new squad.