Few sports can match the spectacle of professional cycling. Speed, suffering, excitement, bravery…it seems to have it all. Only one component is missing. Sustainable funding.
Phil Jones MBE, the managing director of Brother UK, is determined to find ways to place the sport on a more stable platform.
Brother UK is one of the biggest supporters of domestic cycling, with a sponsorship portfolio that includes seven teams, as well as a fleet of neutral service vehicles, but Phil is determined to do more.
“All of our thinking at Brother UK is, how can we be sustainable for another 50 years, and I’m thinking, how does this sport become sustainable for 50 years?” he explains.
“It just needs more money and more sponsors, so that it can be self-funding and self-sufficient for everyone within it, so everyone can earn a wage. The whole thing would then begin to be a proper industry, whereas at the moment, it’s a bit like a cottage industry, run on a lot of goodwill.”
Britain has enjoyed unparalleled cycling success since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. But with professional teams perpetually facing a funding crisis, only Team Sky has matched British Cycling’s track record.
In September, Phil will ride the entire route of the 2018 Tour of Britain with cycling world record holder James Golding to raise £50,000 for the Dave Rayner Fund, a voluntary group supporting young British riders in their dream of turning professional.
“It wouldn’t be unreasonable to invite each person whose enjoyed a full day’s entertainment to give £1,” he says, “and dedicated cycling fans might want to give more.”
Such a gesture would highlight professional cycling’s funding issue. Unlike football, cricket or rugby clubs, cycling teams can’t charge an entry fee. Instead, they depend almost entirely on sponsorship.
There is a real human cost to the young riders who face genuine hardship, not to mention the support staff, many of whom give their skills for nothing to ensure the sport they love continues.
Cycling boosts the public purse too. Welcome to Yorkshire said 2.6m people gathered at the side of the county’s roads over four days to watch this year’s Tour de Yorkshire. Each one might have spent at least £1 in shops or restaurants, on transport or parking.
Phil is focussed on securing a sustainable future for the UK cycle scene and ensuring that teams like those supported by Brother UK operate with the same financial rigour as the multimillion pound business he runs on a daily basis.
“Success for us is if in ten years’ time these teams are standing on their own two feet, and riders are earning a living wage from the sport, and so are the people involved in it – mechanics, soigneurs, everyone,” he says.
“That would be the ideal image. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and the start for me is, build a platform at least for teams to function, try to get new investment, and when you’ve got that investment, the whole thing can ratchet up and move on.”
Support Phil’s #TOB1DA ride by visiting justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tob1da. Donating just £5 – the price of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake – will help to support the next generation of British cycling superstars.
Donate now by visiting justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tob1da