British Cycling announces oil and gas giant Shell as official partner

Eight-year deal signed between cycling's governing body in Britain and Shell UK

The British team at the World Championships
(Image credit: Getty Images)

British Cycling has signed a long-term partnership with the multinational oil and gas giant Shell, that will bring in "wide-ranging support and investment".

The eight-year deal makes Shell UK an "Official Partner" of British Cycling, which has previously been sponsored by Sky and HSBC. Since the end of 2021, BC has been without a top-level sponsor but Shell will take a lower role than lead sponsor in this deal, which runs until 2030.

In a press release sent out on Monday afternoon, British Cycling said that the partnership will see a shared commitment to "supporting Great Britain’s cyclists and para-cyclists through the sharing of world-class innovation and expertise; accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero; and helping more – and wider groups of – people to ride, including ways to make cycling more accessible for disabled people".

It also said the new agreement fits into BC's "broader range of commercial partners to support the delivery of the organisation’s strategy, ‘Lead Our Sport, Inspire Our Communities’".

Shell UK is one part of a global group of energy and petrochemical companies that produces millions of barrels of oil equivalent a day.

This year, Shell posted record earnings of $11.4bn (nearly £10bn) for the three-month period from April to June and promised to give shareholders payouts worth £6.5bn. While that growth has slowed in the second half of 2022, it is still making millions out of oil and gas.

Brian Facer, British Cycling chief executive officer, said in the press release: "We’re looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organisation and sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about.  

“Within our new commercial programme, this partnership with Shell UK brings powerful support for cycling, will help us to improve and will make more people consider cycling and cyclists.”

David Bunch, the UK country chair for Shell, said: "The partnership reflects the shared ambitions of Shell UK and British Cycling to get to net zero in the UK as well as encouraging low and zero-carbon forms of transport such as cycling and electric vehicles.  

“Working together we can deliver real change for people right across the country, from different walks of life, and also apply Shell’s world-leading lubricant technology to support the Great Britain Cycling Team in their quest for gold at the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.” 

A report in The Guardian last month said that while Shell made the most green claims, with 70% of public communications stressing pro-environmental activities,  just 10% of capital expenditure was invested in low carbon, which included some gas projects. 

The company contested the findings, saying that the report, by think tank InfluenceMap, had failed to take into account low-carbon businesses included in its marketing division, including EV charging and low-carbon fuels, and a joint venture in  a bioethanol producer in Brazil.

The agreement between BC and Shell includes specific investment from Shell UK to support a new programme, which will be called Limitless, which will look to break down the barriers disabled people face when accessing cycling.

The press release said: "The ambition is to embed disability and para sport into the heart of communities and develop a clear pathway from local to elite performance, with the funding helping to create inclusive and accessible environments for disabled riders across British Cycling’s 2,000 registered clubs. The programme will be launched, and further details on how to access the funding made available, by the end of the year."

The deal means Shell will be on the sleeve of British riders competing internationally, including this week at the World Track Championships in Paris.

It is understood British Cycling is still looking for a lead sponsor. 

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