Sir Dave Brailsford has reportedly met with Britain's richest man about the possibility of his providing financial backing to Team Sky. The Sky sponsorship deal ends this season and Sir Jim Ratcliffe is understood to be considering whether to provide the estimated £35m annual costs to keep the team going.
Ratcliffe, the founder and CEO of the chemicals giant Ineos, was named as the richest man in Britain in last year’s Sunday Times rich list, with an estimated fortune of £21bn.
A high profile Brexit backer, he recently decided to leave the UK for Monaco where several of Team Sky’s riders are based, including Chris Froome.
According to the Times, he is a “keen amateur rider” and has a track record of investing in sport. He is reportedly investing £110m in Ineos Team UK, Sir Ben Ainslie’s bid to win sailing’s America's Cup in 2021, and he also explored the possibility of buying Chelsea Football Club off Roman Abramovich last year, but the Russian did not want to sell.
Without referring to Ratcliffe, Team Sky sport director Matteo Tosatto recently told Spanish newspaper Marca that a new sponsorship deal could be in place before the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 11.
“It was talked about before the Tour, but it’s likely they’ll announce it before the Giro,” he said.
Tosatto appeared to rule out the rumoured deal with Colombia’s Ecopetrol, saying that the new backer was 'European, from home'.