Spanish Cycling Team Euskaltel To Fold In 45 Days If It Does Not Find A New Sponsor
Spanish cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi, the third-longest surviving professional team in existence, "has 45 days to find a new sponsor or will disappear" at the end of '13, according to Alasdair Fotheringham of CYCLING NEWS. Euskaltel Exec Mikel Astorkiza said, "There are various possibilities, but nothing is actually signed." Spanish telecom company Euskaltel has been the main sponsor of the team since '97, when it "started as a self-funded, grassroots project named simply Euskadi" that was funded purely by local fans. Euskaltel has already spent €45M ($57.5M) on backing the team and it initially promised in January to "sponsor the team for a further four years." However, when the €3.5M ($4.5M) "promised by Basque public institutions" as part of a €9M ($11.5M) annual budget failed to come through -- "indirectly as a result of the austerity cuts -- Euskaltel had to meet the shortfall for 2014, doubling its original annual investment." Given the ongoing recession, coupled with the lack of new sponsors after a search in Spain and elsewhere, "Euskaltel has decided that it makes more financial sense to end its backing completely." The search continues for a new sponsor, "but time is running painfully short." Should Euskaltel-Euskadi disappear, Spain -- once a major powerhouse in cycling -- will have just one WorldTour team: Movistar, and one Professional Continental squad: Caja Rural (CYCLING NEWS, 7/9). EL PAIS reported the team released a statement that said, "The inability of institutions to to cover their part of the budget as a consequence of the economic crisis makes continuing the project in its current model unsustainable, so it is essential that we find a new sponsor to guarantee the club's sustainability. The search for new sponsorships has had fruitless results. Under the current circumstances of Euskadi's economic crisis and the sports-cycling sponsorship crisis in Europe, searching for sponsorships is an arduous and difficult task" (EL PAIS, 7/9).