Tour of Britain organiser facing fresh threat of legal action as claims reach nearly £1m

Isle of Wight council not ruling out legal proceedings against SweetSpot to reclaim funds after island missed out on hosting race in 2022

Carlos Rodriguez
Ineos Grenadiers' Carlos Rodríguez powers to victory on the final stage of this year's Tour of Britain in Caerphilly
(Image credit: SWpix.com)

The organiser of the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot, could be set to face fresh legal action as the total claims against the company tick up to around £1 million. 

Sources have revealed to Cycling Weekly that the Isle of Wight council is considering potential legal action to reclaim up to £350,000 in race hosting fees and costs.

The council paid the promoter £250,000 to host the race's final stage in 2022 but the death of Queen Elizabeth II meant that the final three stages were cancelled. The Isle of Wight Observer recently reported that the council also shelled out a further £100,000 for other expenses related to hosting the race. 

The newspaper relayed that the council learned earlier this year that the island will not host any of the stages of the race in 2024.

Cycling Weekly understands that the council is poised to take potential legal action to claim back the race hosting fee at a minimum and may yet seek to recover its other costs too. 

A spokesperson told Cycling Weekly: “We had been in an ongoing dialogue with SweetSpot about a future stage of the Tour and are taking advice on how we might be able to proceed.”

The Isle of Wight Observer reported that SweetSpot did not have insurance in place to cover the stage's cancellation in 2022 and it had claimed that the Covid pandemic had impacted its ability to afford the necessary insurance. 

There were reportedly no alternative protections for the council written into the contract, such as a guarantee that the island could hold a future stage. 

This comes after a joint investigation between Cycling Weekly and The Guardian revealed that British Cycling had revoked SweetSpot's right to run the Tour of Britain over an alleged unpaid race licence fee

British Cycling confirmed to CW that it had terminated a long-term agreement it had in place with the race promoter. CW understands the firm will owe around £700,000 in unpaid fees by the end of the year. 

At the time Sweetspot CEO Hugh Roberts said: "I am optimistic that the issues with British Cycling can be overcome. We have to resolve our differences."

The race fees combined with the hosting fee the Isle of Wight is seeking to recover will bring the claims against the company to around £950,000.

When negotiations were still ongoing regarding the possibility of hosting the race, councillor Julie Evans said: “To stage a finishing event would be the best outcome because it would present great economic opportunities for the whole Island.

"However, if that is not going to happen, we’ve got to look at all options, as this is public money.”

SweetSpot logo on an advertising board

(Image credit: Swpix.com)

As well as the Isle of Wight, Gloucestershire and Dorset missed out on hosting stages last year. However, SweetSpot was able to deliver the exact same stage that it initially had planned for Gloucestershire in 2022 in this September's race

SweetSpot has faced a raft of financial issues in 2023. The race organiser was also unable to stage the Tour Series - Britain’s largest annual racing series - due to a lack of sponsorship and axed the Women’s Tour in March for similar reasons.

The Tour of Britain race took place this year without a headline sponsor as well as several other key partners including a sponsor for its leader's jersey. 

It's understood that the cancellation of the Tour Series and the Women's Tour, as well as the issues with the Tour of Britain, in part prompted British Cycling officials taking action to revoke the race licence from SweetSpot over the unpaid fees.

SweetSpot CEO Hugh Roberts declined to comment when approached by Cycling Weekly in relation to this story. 

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