British Cycling seeking new main sponsor as HSBC pulls out early
HSBC, the international banking giant, has decided to end its headline sponsorship of British Cycling at the end of 2020, four years into what was intended to be an eight-year deal.
HSBC UK has activated a break clause in the contract that was signed in 2016, citing “a shift in UK marketing and partnership priorities.”
As a result, the tie-up will draw to a close following this year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, at which the British teams are again expected to be at the forefront in the race for medals.
British Cycling said today it would be "actively engaging the market to find a new partner."
HSBC took over from pay-television operator Sky as the main sponsor of British Cycling at the start of 2017 in a deal reported to be worth around £2.5 million ($3.2 million) per year and covering the elite and recreational sport.
British cyclists have continued to enjoy considerable success on the track and road, while 525,000 people participated in HSBC programmes last year alone, as the bank worked towards its target of getting 2 million people involved in the sport by the end of this year.
The partnership also triggered other deals such as HSBC’s sponsorship of last year’s UCI Road World Championships held in Yorkshire in the UK.
However, British Cycling has faced bad publicity over allegations of bullying and sexism against some competitors and anti-doping violations going back nearly a decade, with former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman the subject of an ongoing medical tribunal.
It now faces a considerable challenge to attract a sponsor with the profile and resources of the likes of HSBC and Sky.
In a statement, Julie Harrington, the chief executive of British Cycling, said: “On course to get over two million people cycling regularly, British Cycling’s partnership with HSBC UK has delivered lasting benefits for our sport and for communities up and down the country. We will part with HSBC UK as firm friends and, in the meantime, look forward to working with them to support our riders to achieve their best in Tokyo.
“Over the last 20 years, British Cycling has enjoyed extraordinary success - both in terms of winning on the global stage and in using that inspiration to encourage more people to cycle more often. We are an ambitious organisation with a proud tradition of setting and hitting big targets and we know that more people on bikes is the solution to many of society’s biggest challenges. As we look to 2021, we will be actively engaging the market to find a new partner to be part of the next stage of our exciting journey.”
Ian Stuart, the chief executive of HSBC UK, added: “We are extremely proud of what our partnership has delivered over the last three years and excited about what it can achieve this year. When we set off on this journey together we wanted to get two million people cycling regularly and we’re on track to smash through that this year.
"We wanted this partnership to create a legacy and it has. It has changed the way we approach things as a company as we encourage our customers and our colleagues to make healthier and greener choices. 2020 will be an exciting year for the sport, with Britain willing on our athletes to medals in Tokyo. It’s been a privilege to be involved in building the grassroots of a sport with such a fantastic future.”