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SBD Global/September 24, 2013/Franchises

F1 Ferrari Driver Fernando Alonso's Purchase Of Euskaltel-Euskadi Cycling Collapses

Spanish telecom company Euskaltel said that F1 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso's "plans to buy Spanish cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi have collapsed," according to Braden Phillips of REUTERS. Euskaltel said, "We could not reach a definitive agreement. Euskaltel is now obliged, regrettably, to return to the process of an orderly and responsible closure of the project." Alonso, "a keen bike rider," had been set to "purchase the company that owns the Basque team's WorldTour license to enable them to continue racing in professional cycling's top league" in '14. Euskaltel-Euskadi faces "closure at the end of the season after 17 years of activity." No financial details "were given of Alonso's offer but Spanish media had reported" that Alonso had about $8.11M "available to spend on the project" (REUTERS, 9/23).

LAST HOPE DISAPPEARS: The AFP reported that Euskaltel-Euskadi had agreed "in principle" for Alonso to "fill a funding gap in their sponsorship" after the team lost $4.7M of "local government spending due to spending cuts." With the breakdown in negotiations, "it appears as if the last hope to save the 19-year old team have disappeared" (AFP, 9/23).

NEGOTIATIONS UNSUCCESSFUL: In Madrid, Sergio Viñas reported "the miracle has evaporated." Alonso, "who had funding a cycling club in his mind for years, saw in the near disappearance of Euskaltel an excellent opportunity to act on this idea." Throughout this month, Alonso was "outlining the project, which was going to be led by former cyclist Kiko García." At the same time, "meetings were held to finish the agreement, and this is where the problem occurred." Alonso "assured that Euskaltel was asking for too much." The team "criticized the spreading of false information." Euskaltel-Euskadi also "showed its disappointment in the outcome of the process and said that it put forth all of its effort to reach an agreement" (EL MUNDO, 9/23).
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