So what are the potential drivers behind a Leo-Shack or Radio-pard merger/takeover?
As everybody knows, despite spending a ton of money on having a star-studded team, Leopard’s budget is still paid predominantly by Becca (or not paid, an article in l’Équipe also cites financial problems). No matter how many stars you have, finding a title sponsor for a cycling team is very difficult – unfortunately I know.
On the other side, Radioshack featured in several lists of “brands most likely to disappear in 2011″ so who would blame them for looking to stop or reduce their commitment. On June 30 Bruyneel announced a 2-year extension with “our current partners” which all the journalists translated into “Radioshack”. But I can’t find Bruyneel mentioning them by name anywhere (see the odd wording in the Reuters piece).
Radioshack itself apparently never issued a press release about an extension (see their press releases here). Since real journalists check all their facts before writing something I have no reason to doubt any of this, but I still find it odd.
Even if we assume that “our current partners” means “Radioshack”, that doesn’t necessarily mean their commitment is sufficient to cover a top-team budget. So we potentially have two under-funded teams, and one common bike sponsor.
In my opinion, therein lies the key in this saga. Trek likely spends anywhere from 3-5M Euro on each team, or 6-10M Euro in total. Add a few smaller sponsors and other suppliers and you’ve got a full team budget right there.
In other words, merge the teams and it doesn’t matter what Radioshack’s financial future looks like, nor how much patience Becca can afford to have. If Radioshack remains fully committed, you’ve got yourself an OVER-funded team which I am sure the combined owners would not object to. If Radioshack doesn’t, you’re still (close to) break-even.
Or maybe this whole situation is about Trek wanting to spend 3-5M only once, not twice.
Either way it’d be great for Trek because they can now focus their marketing on just one team and have their name plastered all over it. It’s maybe not so great but better than a potential meltdown for the current team owners. It’s obviously not great at all for some of the sacrifical lambs.
BTW, I love the “scoop” in the Tageblatt that Trek president John Burke was seen spending a lot of time with Becca at the Tour de France finish in Paris. Yeah, that’s really odd, for the main sponsor of the team to spend time with the team owner at the finish of the biggest event of the year. Sinister stuff.