EF Education First-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters has expressed his belief that World Tour teams should become franchises with entry to the biggest races guaranteed long-term.
Vaughters, whose team faced a $7m funding shortfall in its 2018 budget before EF Education came on board as main sponsor, told Reuters that the sport would be more secure if sponsors could have greater certainty in their investments.
“The governance of the sport needs to say these are the 18, 20 or 22 teams that do the Tour de France and these are the ones that have the rights for the foreseeable future,” he said. “That way you have sponsors fighting for limited positions in the market, instead of the inverse.”
Although his own team was saved at the eleventh hour, a number of World Tour teams have folded in recent years and Vaughters says this is something that cycling needs to address.
“Structurally there is a problem that needs to be corrected. Fans of Manchester United or the Denver Broncos don’t worry about them just going away. It’s not something that fans are used to or can understand.
“There are a number of different ways to go about it. One is cost control, or financial fairness, which is what I call it. The other is creating a structure where franchises are guaranteed the biggest races such as the Tour de France.
“If there is a guaranteed entry into those races in the lifetime of the business, then at that point you have created a limited market, you have created scarcity and when you create scarcity sponsors come in and gravitate towards that scarcity.”
Vaughters also had his say on the idea of a salary cap, which has been floated by a number of people in recent times, including Alberto Contador.
“Salary caps are not the core issue,” he said. “The core issue is total budget caps. If you say every team is allowed, say $20m, then you are playing chess and everyone is playing chess with an equal number of pieces.
“Everyone has one queen, two bishops, two rooks. Right now we have a situation with some teams having four queens and five rooks and others have one king and 18 pawns. That is not sustainable and in the long-term and will dissuade sponsors from entering the sport.”