SweetSpot, the former organizer of the Tour of Britain professional cycling stage race, has entered into liquidation after losing its contract with governing body British Cycling and as it faces legal claims totaling almost £1 million.
The company, which also organized the Women’s Tour, part of the women’s WorldTour calendar, and the Tour Series, (a round of city center events), confirmed it had hired KRE Corporate Recovery to deal with its creditors after entering voluntary liquidation.
The move comes a year after SweetSpot canceled the Women’s Tour and the Tour Series for 2023 due to a lack of funding and commercial partners, and six months after the company helped run the UCI Super World Championships in Glasgow.
It also comes two months after the company’s long-term contract to organize the Tour of Britain was terminated by British Cycling over unpaid rights fees of £750,000.
At the time, Sweetspot said its legal team would handle its dispute with British Cycling to resolve the issue amicably. However, SweetSpot is now reportedly facing legal action from the Isle of Wight council after it canceled the final stages of the 2022 Tour of Britain in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death.
Following the announcement that it had lost the contract for the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot founder and chief executive Hugh Roberts and race director Mick Bennett announced their retirement last month, ending their 20-year stint at the company's helm.
Roberts confirmed the news of liquidation to the Guardian news outlet, adding: “Liquidation started to become a possibility back in July. Because we were already under a lot of pressure financially with the Tour of Britain. There was a potential title sponsor keen to be involved, with the men’s Tour and the women’s Tour, so we went ahead with the race because that encouraged other sponsors to get involved.
“The reality of us having to decide to do what has actually happened came into focus. It’s the end of an era. It’s 20 years of hard work that have come to this.
“We have been fighting so many headwinds for the last three or four years, that it’s come to the point where we really can’t carry on in the current climate and the current business environment that we find ourselves in.
“British Cycling wanted to still receive the full license fee that they felt they were due in 2022. Despite the Queen dying in the middle of the race and all our other partners showing a little bit of financial sympathy to us they were insisting that the fee they felt they were owed should be paid in full.”
Although British Cycling owns the rights to the annual race, SweetSpot has organized the Tour of Britain since it was revived in 2004 and last secured the rights to do so until 2029 under a 10-year contract agreed in 2019. In 2021, however, the race was held without a title sponsor, a key source of revenue for the organizers.
British Cycling has previously insisted it will deliver this year’s edition of the Tour of Britain, with details to be released by the end of this month.
However, SweetSpot formally owns the Women’s Tour, placing its future in doubt despite announcing the 2024 edition will be staged in Wales for the first time as part of a long-term agreement with the Welsh Government. This year was to mark the 10th anniversary of the first Women’s Tour.
In a statement, British Cycling has said: “We are making every possible effort to ensure that the Tour of Britain and a UCI Women’s World Tour stage race takes place in 2024 and beyond and will be in a position to provide further details in the coming weeks.”