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Isle of Wight Council says it is £350,000 out of pocket after Tour of Britain stage cancelled due to Queen’s death

UPDATE: Race organiser SweetSpot says it has offered the Isle of Wight a stage of the 2024 event and confirmed insurance did not cover the September cancellation

UPDATE: In reply to a request for comment from, on Monday 9 January 2022 SweetSpot offered the following statement addressing the Isle of Wight Council's comments below.

We have been talking with the Isle of Wight Council since September's cancellation about next steps, with our first, and preferred, option being to host a stage of a future edition of the Tour of Britain (2024) on the island to replace the one that couldn't take place in 2022.

Given the excitement around the stage and huge amount of work over the previous two years that had gone into it, it would be a real shame if a stage of the Tour of Britain could not now take place on the Isle of Wight.

Therefore, our hope is that we are able to agree to this with stakeholders following a long-scheduled meeting with them this week. If this agreement is not possible then we will discuss alternative options with colleagues from the Isle of Wight Council.

Contingency cover in the event of a death of a senior member of the Royal Family has been prohibitively expensive and commercially unviable for some time, even more so following the crippling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the events industry, which prevented us from running any of our races for nearly 700 days.

As a result, insurance did not cover the enforced cancellation of the event following the passing of Her Majesty the Queen on Thursday 8 September 2022.

The Isle of Wight Council says it has been left £350,000 out of pocket after the final stage of the 2022 Tour of Britain was cancelled in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

The eight-day stage race had initially been scheduled to conclude with a hill-top finish on the island off the south coast of England in 2021. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the postponement of the 2020 race, organisers SweetSpot – instead of completely scrapping that year’s route – simply shunted it to the following year, meaning the original plans for 2021 also had to be delayed.

Speaking at the time of the island’s confirmation as the final stage of the 2022 Tour in July 2020, Conservative council leader Dave Stewart said: “Securing the Tour of Britain is a major coup for the Island and just what is needed to help boost the local economy after the devastating impact of coronavirus.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the stunning landscapes of the Island to an international audience, attracting spectators locally and from afar to enjoy world-class cycling. Just as the Isle of Wight is synonymous with sailing, so too I hope we can become a mecca for all things cycling with Tour of Britain and other exciting cycling events in the pipeline.”

> Tour of Britain cancelled following Queen's death 

However, with the Tour of Britain finally set for a thrilling denouement on the Isle of Wight as British star Tom Pidcock snapped at the heels of overall leader (and eventual winner) Gonzalo Serrano, the death of Queen Elizabeth II midway through the race on 8 September forced the organisers to cancel the Tour’s remaining three stages.

The Isle of Wight County Press has reported this week that the island’s council has claimed that the organisers’ decision – a necessary one in the circumstances – has cost the local authority £350,000, including the £250,000 paid to SweetSpot to host the event.

The council told the newspaper that its contract with SweetSpot stipulated that in the case of an extraordinary event beyond either party’s control, a ‘force majeure’, the authority would be entitled to a refund of the host venue fees, after real costs had been deducted.

However, despite arguing that SweetSpot is “suitably insured” for such instances, the council claimed that it was “made clear” immediately by the Surrey-based events company that “'it would not be in a position to refund any of the money”.

The council also claimed that, thanks to the last-minute cancellation, they incurred further costs not covered by the organisers, including those related to road closure orders, marketing, and public relations expenses.

While some costs were able to be recouped, the council says they still had to pay around £100,000. Some sponsorship agreements to cover the costs had been reportedly agreed, but these fell through when the stage did not take place.

> Tour de Yorkshire bites the dust – but a new one-day event may replace it

However, the council did acknowledge that some financial benefits had been identified despite the stage’s cancellation.  

According to the Isle of Wight County Press, discussions have continued between the council and SweetSpot, with the authority saying that agreement has been reached to provide a sum against a future cycling event on the island, which will be considered by the council’s corporate scrutiny committee on 10 January.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Organon | 1 year ago
1 like

Well SPOTY said the Queen was a great supporter of sport. Perhaps her estate will stump up the cash, in lieu of Inheritance Tax, perhaps.

Simon_MacMichael replied to Organon | 1 year ago
1 like

Assuming her personal estate was left to King Charles (as heir to the throne while she was alive), it will be exempt from inheritance tax under a 1993 agreement between John Major's government and HMRC.

mattw | 1 year ago
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If the organiser is suitably covered, as claimed by the Council, then it should be recoverable.

If costs are not recoverable, then ones presumes the IOWC is responsible for the consequences of insurance they chose not to take out.

Or am I being too astringent?

ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago

You'd think a country which persists with the bizarrely archaic system of retaining the same head of state until they literally conk out from old age, would've worked out the rules for who pays whom when events are cancelled due to that entirely inevitable event occurring.

Rik Mayals unde... replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago

It is called cancellation insurance. Many companies who are hosting large events take it out in the event that it is cancelled. The Royal Family should not have to bear the brunt.

The organisors should have taken this out, it is their fault that they didn't.

Jetmans Dad replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago

biker phil wrote:

The organisors should have taken this out, it is their fault that they didn't.

Indeed. Describing it as prohibitively expensive is just an excuse. Insurance of this sort is only prohibitively expensive if it costs more than it would cost to cover the expenses yourselves. 

Simply choosing not to insure it and then not indemnify the local organisers when YOU cancel it should not be an acceptable response. 

And that is before you get into the thorny issue of it being their choice to cancel after the Queen's death ... no one forced them to do it. 

Awavey replied to Jetmans Dad | 1 year ago
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no, when the police cancelled all leave after the Queens death, the motorbike outriders, the majority of whom are police be they off duty or on duty, who provide the protective race bubble for the riders were recalled to their local forces.

As a result the race could no longer operate in a safe condition, which would no doubt contravene the event insurance,and they had no alternative but to cancel the remaining stages.

and as I partly got right, and Sweetspot confirmed, stage cancellations usually result in the stage being rescheduled at some point, though I dont know the full details of the contracts they draw up and the finances involved, but thats arguably the "insurance" payout, you get 1st refusal on holding the stage again, but I suspect its very clearly documented who pays for what and what happens in certain circumstances beyond the organisers control, which were no doubt beefed up following Covid lockdowns, and really if theres any fault or blame to be affixed it is on the IOW council for not understanding the contract they signed.

Though they are in the invidious position that they spent budget for ROI they didnt fully realise, obviously alot of people who had booked accomodation on the island to see the race still visited, and explain to their constituents who dont seem particularly keen on the Island behind handed over to a bunch of cyclists to have a race, why thats the case.

mattw replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 year ago

Summary answer: we have.

Awavey | 1 year ago

Im probably wrong, but I was under the impression the IOW were essentially guaranteed to host a stage this year as a result of last years cancellation, whether they have to pay again or would be offered a discounted rate Im not sure.

Rendel Harris replied to Awavey | 1 year ago

Well they can't have the depart or the finish as they're already promised to Manchester and Wales respectively, one would imagine the logistics of getting the whole tour onto the island and then off again within 24 hours might be challenging? Additionally one would imagine the council, having paid for the finale, wouldn't be too happy about being offered an intermediate stage instead. On the face of it this looks pretty poor from SweetSpot, they should really have had enough insurance in place to provide a full refund; other potential hosts are going to be pretty wary now if they think there's a chance that national or international events could mean losing the entire investment.

Awavey replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

well tbf those Manchester & Wales deals were announced only in Nov/Dec, which maybe indicates things changed. Certainly immediately post cancellation of the race the impression I had was they intended to return to both the last two stages this year.

Now different situation but when the Women's Tour was cancelled due to Covid, both start and finish stages had already been announced, and they simply rolled over to became the start and finish of the next years race, and I dont recall any discussion about the councils being left out of pocket for it, even though a fairly major sponsor backed out of one of the stages, which undoubtedly left a shortfall the council had to fill.

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