Business as usual at Team Sky despite parent company takeover and departure of James Murdoch

The change in leadership has raised questions about Sky’s future, but insiders say the team will continue

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford. (Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Team Sky insiders say it’s business as usual at the British WorldTour outfit, despite the takeover of their parent company and departure of James Murdoch.

Sky plc has backed the team since it was founded in 2009 and chairman of the company Murdoch was a driving force behind Team Sky’s inception.

US communication giant Comcast will take over Sky plc after edging out 21st Century Fox in a bidding war in September.

The changes at Sky plc have raised questions about the future of Team Sky, compounded by the announcement on Tuesday that Murdoch had resigned from the board of Sky following the takeover.

But Team Sky insiders are confident about the cycling squad’s future, saying it’s business as usual.

Team sources say that while James Murdoch played a big role in Team Sky’s inception and continued success, the CEO of Sky Jeremy Darroch, who will continue in his role, has also provided vision and support.

>>>Looking back at Egan Bernal’s year as the Colombian signs five-year deal with Team Sky

Fox owned a 39% stake in Sky plc and aimed to take full control of the company through the bidding process.

But Rupert Murdoch’s Fox was outbid by Comcast, which now owns 77% of Sky plc.

Rupert Murdoch’s son James served as chief executive from 2003 to 2007, then chairman from 2007 to 2012 before returning to the board in 2016.

Chairman and CEO of Comcast, Brian L. Roberts, said: "We are fully committed to ensuring Sky News' future, maintaining its editorial independence, and preserving its strong track record for trusted, high-quality, impartial news."

Darroch said: "Comcast have committed to investment in Sky, including our Osterley and European headquarters and we very much look forward to working with Brian and the Comcast team to achieve further growth and development of Sky's business.

"Separately, Sky News will benefit greatly from Comcast's funding commitments over the coming years and the arrangements that will be put in place to preserve and enhance its editorial independence."

>>> Beñat Intxausti to leave Team Sky for Euskadi-Murias

There has been no official commitment from Sky plc or Comcast about the future of the cycling team.

Insiders also pointed to recent contract announcements as a strong indicator of the team’s future.

Last week, Team Sky announced that young Colombian superstar Egan Bernal had signed a new five-year contract after a stellar debut year in the WorldTour.

The 21-year-old joined the British WorldTour outfit at the start of 2018 and hugely impressed his team and the public.

After securing a general classification win at the Tour of California and riding his first Tour de France in his debut WorldTour year, the youngster has secured a ride for the next five years.

During the announcement, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford spoke in optimistic terms about the future, tipping Bernal as the team’s Grand Tour leader in the years to come.

The team are also believed to be signing fellow Colombian Ivan Sosa for next season.

Sosa had announced he would be riding with Trek-Segafredo in 2019, but a source close to the deal said the 20-year-old would instead be moving to Sky.

Team Sky have also been hugely successful in Grand Tours, winning the Vuelta a España in 2017 followed by the Giro d’Italia in May with Chris Froome, and taking the Tour de France with Geraint Thomas in the summer.

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