Ineos 'close to deal to take over Team Sky sponsorship'
Ineos, the UK industrial firm that is the country’s largest privately-owned company, is reported to be close to a deal to take over the sponsorship of Team Sky, the top UK-based cycling outfit that is seeking a new major partner after the international pay-TV operator’s decision to end its involvement in the team.
The Ineos offer is being preferred to one in which Team Sky would transform itself into a Colombian team, with Ecopetrol, the Colombian oil company, taking on the role of main sponsor from 2020, according to reports.
Team Sky’s budget is said to be about $30 million a year, which has been regarded as difficult to replace, albeit Comcast, the new owner of Sky is reported to have offered to supply 70 per cent of the team’s budget in 2021.
However, that budget is dwarfed by Ineos’ involvement in a bid by Ben Ainslie, the former Olympic gold medallist, to win sailing’s America’s Cup in 2021, which it is funding to the tune of £110 million ($152 million).
The other sporting interests of Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of Ineos, include ownership of FC Lausanne-Sport, which competes in Switzerland's top soccer league.
Sky shocked the cycling world in December by announcing that it would withdraw from its sponsorship and ownership of Team Sky at the end of 2019, after a highly successful 10-year spell in which it helped transform the image of the sport in the UK, albeit the team also became embroiled in damaging doping allegations.