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Fan funding could help to bridge pay gap and support more women into racing

In the weeks following stellar Olympic cycling performances from both men and women, sports personalities have begun speaking out about the discrepancies between men's and women's pro cycling funding.

Sarah Storey, heroine of the Paralympic Games, said to us last weekend: "It's about giving people the opportunity to progress, get proficient and then eventually climb the ladder like we see in the men's sport.

"We just have to hope that with the London Games we can see that change and we can perhaps see a women's pro Tour and it would be as well covered as the men's."

Said Emma Pooley in the Guardian: "There is a lot of uncertainty every year over teams.

"You think you've got a contract, then the team decide women's racing is not of interest to main sponsors because it's not visible. It's a bit depressing – after a while you feel what you're doing is pointless because no one is interested.

"With a lot of women's teams you're lucky if they buy you a sandwich at the race." Her team, the AA Drink-Leontien.nl squad, has folded, leaving her wondering whether it's time to retire.

Lizzie Armitstead has been equally outspoken, telling the Telegraph: "It can get overwhelming and frustrating, the sexism I’ve experienced in my career. It’s a big issue in women’s sport. It’s the obvious things: the salary, media coverage, the general things you have to cope with. If you focus on it too much you get very disheartened."

So, what's to be done?

Crowdfunding is the answer, says the manager of Matrix Fitness-Prendas manager, Stefan Wyman, and with that in mind he's going all twentyfirst century and introducing a hashtag, #fanbackedwomensteam.

Wyman told BikeBiz: "In the new world of social media and ease of information there is an opportunity for [funding such a team] to work.

"It need not be the primary source of funding. Salaries to riders would not be dependent on it. It would be run by a small, but perfectly-formed, committee.

"A large part of the fund would be used for promotional events for the good of growth and development, not racing cost."

It's not the first pro cycling team to go fan-backed; the Basque team Euskaltel Euskadi was born out of the Fundación Euskadi, created in 1993.

Business sponsors, the Basque government and Basque cycling fans contributed to the Fundación. With that money they founded a professional cycling team from 1994.

Nowadays it's mostly businesses and government that pay the way, and we all know what financial trouble the Spanish government is in.

But Wyman remains hopeful. He said: "We are looking to build a primary community of 500 people, with an initial funding target of £50,000. We believe that there will be ongoing opportunities to reward these partners with benefits, like VIP events, once our community is established."

Like with most crowdfunding ventures, there are rewards for people who pay up, beyond feeling a part of something.

A £100 pledge earns full 'community membership' - or those without the cash can offer 'sweat equity', such as help with photography or events organisation.

Would you pay to see women's cycling supported? Let us know in the comments below.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

26 comments

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 4 years ago
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We're definitely in. Great fun.

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pwake [388 posts] 4 years ago
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I would too!
Like the idea to offer a monthly option; those who put the money up front, that could be used for any initial capital items, with a nice steady cashflow from those who go for the monthly option.
I'd suggest a reward of a team jersey with all contributors names on it; that would do me.  4

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Gkam84 [9089 posts] 4 years ago
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I'd be in for this, But as said, Don't really have £100 to stump up. If this idea was to take off. We could have others taking on the idea in various other countries.

It wouldn't take long to show the appetite for woman's cycling and getting major sponsors back on board and making a major push to get woman's cycling if not level, up there with men's cycling on terms of sponsors and air time

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MinardiM189 [90 posts] 4 years ago
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Would be worth looking at a Supporters Trust type organisation. Some football and rugby clubs are owned and run by their supporters and this sounds as though it would be along similar lines.

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nemysys [49 posts] 4 years ago
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I'll add my £100...
The girls should have equal opportunities to the boys...
If crowdfunding is the way forward... lets get started...!  1

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davkt [43 posts] 4 years ago
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Where do we sign up? cash and sweat (well photography!) ready

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Johnty [4 posts] 4 years ago
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Count me in as well please have been looking for a way to help since hearing of the lack of funding. Would be a waste of talent not too see them racing again. Maybe I could get a Job helping as well  1 Just need details of where to sign up unless I've missed it.

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Campag_10 [153 posts] 4 years ago
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In principle, I'm in. I'd want to see a business plan to make sure it's not a scam that's just capitalising on the mood of the moment.

I'm also prepared to invest sweat equity as well - photography, copy writing/editing and design

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rjp [1 post] 4 years ago
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I'd definitely be interesting in supporting with money and (small amounts of) sweat.

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becky-smith [1 post] 4 years ago
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Great idea!......if a monthly payment option was available. Like others have already said, it is a bit too much to pay in one go.

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mandy [94 posts] 4 years ago
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I would be up for a monthly sub and what a fab way to start the ball rolling  1

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jarderich [94 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm in.
Would be cool to see one of your riders win a race and be able to say "I helped make that happen".
Sweat equity as well in the form of printed media.

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crikey [1252 posts] 4 years ago
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I'd buy that for a dollar!

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step-hent [723 posts] 4 years ago
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I'd do it. Agree that a monthly option would be good and some people would almost certainly put more in if that were the case, but it might be difficult for the team to rely on - a direct debit can get cancelled at any time an with quite a small number of funders, it wouldn't take many mid-season drop outs to cause a problem. But there must be data from charities on the rate of cancelled monthly donations, I guess, so that rate could prob be factored in.

Either way, it's a great idea!

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Comrade [211 posts] 4 years ago
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Great idea. But I'm not in. I have a house/family life/ kids/ work/ and find it hard enough financially alreay! As for the "sweat" I spend enough time mowing lawn/painting walls/ sealing the bath/ taking kids to rugby....etc...get the idea? I will watch it on the telly though or if an event rides through my village. Good luck with it!!

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robdaykin (not verified) [368 posts] 4 years ago
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Count me in

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Stefan Wyman [7 posts] 4 years ago
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Hi

I have posted some information about the idea on the team website at http://www.onthedrops.cc/fanbackedwomensteam/

If anyone is interested (or confirmed they want to 'IN'), please email me on stefan @ onthedrops.com

I will also post updates via twitter on ds_stef

Re monthly amounts, I think thats a great idea. We are very much data gathering right now, and would like to hear all of your ideas, comments, and what you think the potential would be (including potential issues). Please send them all to me by email.

I think its clear from the early support this has legs, and we are nearly at 25% there in terms of initial numbers needed (113 people confirmed in 5 days).

I hope to post another full update this week.

Regards

Stefan

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Michael5 [121 posts] 4 years ago
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When I tried to email to join up I got an email response saying the email address was blocking emails... hope that just means his inbox is full!

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fiftyacorn [89 posts] 4 years ago
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Its sad that team sky dont have a womens team - they have so many great GB riders - Cooke, Armitstead, Pooley and Garner - that they should not have to be fighting for scraps off the table

I thought it was great to see Wiggins support for a team on the cycle show a few weeks ago

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Blackhound [442 posts] 4 years ago
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I was thinking about a fan based team on a ride a few weeks ago but thought it would be too expensive. I do not know how teams are funded exactly, bikes and kit can come from sponsors but what about salaries? Paying a team of 6 the average national salary would be £150k per year for a start. And the sort of riders in the article above deserve a lot more than that in my opinion. With back-up staff, vehicle (hire) and transport the budget would be a lot more. I would suggest commitment should be for 3+ years as well to give continuity to all.

Are not Rapha partly sponsored this way as well, contribution being £1,000? Sure they were a few years ago. To rich for me though.

Willing to contribute £100 and money.

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crandle1 [5 posts] 4 years ago
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I think its a great concept, be really keen to see it materialise

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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I reckon I'd do it. £100 each. Maybe direct debit, since £8.33 a month would go un-noticed, whereas you might feel the effect of a lump sum.

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Stefan Wyman [7 posts] 4 years ago
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Hi Blackhound

If you send me a mail at stefan @ initialiseme .com I'll get you a responce.

So good points and I'll expalin things for you.

£150k, you are right. For a 'Pro' registered UCI team, you'd be looking at £250k plus.

This is a development program, trying to lead the way in the UK and raise standards across the board.

Look forward to your mail

Stefan

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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Talking of investing some effort, can I sign up as a masseur?!  19 Laura Trott, this way please!  8

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Stefan Wyman [7 posts] 4 years ago
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Hi All

If you've had any issues sending mails through, firstly, sorry. Not sure what the issue is/was

Try stefan @ initialiseme.com (or stefan @onthedrops.com)

Otherwise I'm in Facebook and Twitter (ds_Stef)

Stefan

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MrsK [43 posts] 4 years ago
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I'll do the Sports Psychiatry bit! And the crowdfunding sounds great too.