Is A Salary Cap The Answer To Team Sky's Dominance In Cycling?

Author:Mr Alastair Purssell and Jack Blakey
Profession:Squire Patton Boggs LLP

Sports Shorts has previously covered the idea of introducing a form of a salary cap in football after Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA President, suggested that the greatest problem facing football is "the competitive balance between teams".

The idea of balancing competition by imposing a salary cap system is now being discussed amongst the cycling community after Team Sky's recent dominance in the sport.

Team Sky launched in 2010 and won the 2012 Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins, followed by victory the next year through Chris Froome who went on to win the Tour de France in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Team Sky won this year's race with Geraint Thomas, which signaled their sixth Tour de France triumph within seven years. Froome also won Team Sky's first Vuelta a España in 2017 (becoming the first British rider to win the race) and its first Giro d'Italia this year.

It is no secret that Team Sky are dominating the sport. Chris Froome himself admitted in 2016 that, "If I was riding for a small team it would be very different."

Following the 2018 Tour de France, French newspaper, Libération, argued "the distribution of the booty has gotten worse. The gap between the means of teams has exploded - while the shareholders of ASO refuse to give up a cent."

Indeed, the gulf between Team Sky and the rest is clear and steadily increasing. In 2016, Team Sky's estimated budget exceeded £30 million whilst Sunweb Squad and Movistar are estimated to operate with budgets of £15 million and £12 million, respectively.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) President, David Lappartient, has previously encouraged introducing budget caps for teams like Team Sky. Lappartient clarified that he does not support a 'salary cap' per se for the cyclists, who he says should earn as much as they want and can.

Instead, he supports a budget cap for the teams so that they can only afford a limited number of the strongest riders within its budget, meaning, "you would naturally have the strong riders better divided among various teams". This would result in the strongest cyclists being distributed amongst teams so that they can maximise their earning potential whilst at the same time not being monopolised within one team.

Similar complaints have been made in relation to Formula 1 and have provoked discussions in the sport to implement a team budget cap by 2021, although this is not set to include drivers' salaries, which they hope will promote more tactical spending. An idea...

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