SweetSpot, the UK events company, is exploring legal action after its long-term contract to organize the Tour of Britain professional cycling stage race was terminated by the British Cycling governing body over a financial dispute.
Although British Cycling owns the rights to the annual race, SweetSpot has organized the Tour of Britain since it was revived in 2004 and won the rights to do so until 2029 under a 10-year contract agreed in 2019.
However, the future of the event is now in doubt after British Cycling prematurely ended that deal, claiming that SweetSpot owes around £700,000 ($859,504) in unpaid rights fees.
However, SweetSpot is contesting the contract termination and considering legal action against the governing body.
In a statement, the company told GlobalData: “SweetSpot Group is in discussions with its lawyers regarding the recent announcement from British Cycling concerning their alleged termination of the Tour of Britain contract.
“SweetSpot Group is still progressing with planning for the Women’s Tour in 2024 and beyond.”
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If a new promoter is not found in the coming months, the UK’s biggest cycling stage race could potentially be canceled next year.
In a memo sent to all British Cycling staff, the governing body said it took the decision to terminate the agreement “following the non-payment of agreed rights fees.”
According to Cycling Weekly and the Guardian, SweetSpot owes unpaid installments for the rights to run the race dating back to 2022.
British Cycling confirmed the termination of the contract in a statement to media outlets but stated that it “remains fully committed to the delivery of the Tour of Britain in 2024 and will share further details in due course."
In the memo, which was obtained by Cycling Weekly, the organization stated: “The agreed rights fee form a significant part of British Cycling’s earned income… the current situation is untenable, with a clear financial impact on our organization and our ability to invest in the growth of the sport.”
British Cycling has reportedly revoked the Tour of Britain license as it deals with its own financial difficulties ahead of an Olympic year.
Cycling Weekly recently revealed that British Cycling reported a loss of £1.3 million in commercial income and a decline in membership of 7%.
Like SweetSpot, British Cycling is also understood to have engaged with lawyers to resolve the matter.
However, SweetSpot chairman Hugh Roberts told the Guardian that he is hopeful that a resolution will be found.
He said: “We are in very positive talks, particularly regarding the Women’s Tour, with numerous stakeholders. I am optimistic that the issues with British Cycling can be overcome. We have to resolve our differences.”
Both the men’s and women’s races have faced problems in recent years. The Women’s Tour, which British Cycling does not own rights to, was canceled in 2023 due to increased running costs and reduced commercial support.
At the time, SweetSpot said running costs had risen by around 20% compared to 2022.
The 2024 edition is currently being planned and will be hosted in Wales for the first time as part of a long-term agreement with the Welsh Government. It will mark the 10th anniversary of the first Women’s Tour.
Meanwhile, the men’s edition was held last year without a title sponsor, a key source of revenue for the organizers.
The Tour Series, another cycling event run by SweetSpot, was also canceled in 2023 due to financial struggles.