As I’ve written already, mergers are all the rage. All sorts of team combination are being talked about. Currently there don’t seem to be any rules regarding team mergers. Should we stand back and let teams deal unhindered or is it worth ruling on this?
This is subject where the answers are in short supply but let’s think through some of the issues at stake. Perhaps the most common meaning of the word “mergers” relates to the corporate use, whereby two companies are combined. It’s here that things are interesting because there are clear rules and laws to ensure corporate mergers and takeovers are handled smoothly. They’re probably not perfect but if two companies want to talk about a combo, then this is usually done in strict secrecy. Should the news leak then all parties involved usually have to give full details or at least some kind of holding statement. Sometimes the shares of the companies involved can be suspended.
One of the fundamental reasons behind these laws is to prevent false dealings. An investor buying or selling shares is supposed to do so in good faith that all fundamental news relating to the business is public. If a company denies being in merger talks and an investor buys or sells, only to find the company soon announces the merger then they might have grounds to sue.
What’s this got to do with bike racing?
If sport has several ethical issues to confront, this isn’t top of the list. But we can still think about it. If two teams are in merger talks then will their riders, and above all their management, be influenced by this? For example could maybe Radioshack and Leopard-Trek help each other out in a race, knowing they’re might be together next year?
And what about the riders? As I’ve said before, teams are capped at 30 riders. The transfer market is in full swing right now and if team managers are cooking up deals that mean putting together two teams with, say, already 20 riders each then several riders could be out of a job. It’s only fair the riders are notified as soon as possible, perhaps that they are notified as soon as team managers hold talks.
These are only quick thoughts but the corporate world has many laws to govern these situations, often to protect investors, employees and even competitors. I can’t help wonder if some protection, only a little, might help in the world of pro cycling too. The sport itself might worry about collusion during a race although this goes on all the time.
Above all, the prospect of teams deciding on plans at such late notice – the 2012 season is four months away – means riders in teams should be informed at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps a ban on team mergers after 1 July would be a start?