Greenedge registered as an Italian team

Thursday, 22 December 2011

With the list of teams for 2012 in place, several squads are registered in surprising places. New Australian team Greenedge stands out at first as it is listed as an Italian team, see the screengrab image above.

But if that sounds odd, the Farnese Vini team seems to be registered in an empty plot of land in a north London suburb.

With Greenedge it’s simply a mistake by the UCI, the team has asked for this to be fixed. Note the Aussie team already has close links with Italy, the team is sharing the Australian Institute of Sport’s base in Gavirate.

The choice of nationality is up to the team, not the mailbox. Here’s the relevant UCI rule:

2.15.051 The nationality of the UCI ProTeam is determined, at the UCI ProTeam’s choice, by:
1) The country of the registered office of the paying agent; or
2) The country of the registered office of the holder of the licence; or
3) A country where a product or service is marketed by the or a main sponsor under the name of the UCI ProTeam or of a component of this name.

Greenedge’s official address is in Victoria, Australia and at the address of Jayco, the caravan company owned by team patron Gerry Ryan. This is the only surprise amongst the top team in the UCI Pro Tour, all the others are registered in their home country. That said, note BMC is a Swiss company but the team is American.

It’s when you look at the smaller teams that some quite curious cases stand out. You might think Team Sky’s closest domestic rivals are Endura Racing and Rapha-Condor but don’t forget Farnese Vini. “Farnese“, the Cipollini bikes, even a wine-making sponsor means this is surely the most un-British team going. Yet it is registered with the UCI as a British team and its address is in London.

I wanted to illustrate the oddity of this with an image from Google’s Street View, to contrast the Italian team’s euro-fluo colours with a photo of the presumably drab building where Farnese dodge their taxes. Only when I tried to hunt down the building it didn’t seem to exist.

The vineyards of Farnese?

The team’s full address is Winnington House, 2 Woodberry Grove, North Finchley, London. Next door is 4 Woodberry Grove, the Finchley Spiritualist Church which offers clairvoyant healing, handy for recovery sessions I suppose. But the next-door building at Number Two just isn’t there, just an empty plot of land. Reassuringly though I made a few phone calls and discovered that Google took the picture some time ago and that a new office building has emerged – it also now houses the church too. This is the HQ for a business that specialises in setting up other companies and the address is home to thousands of companies, all registered under the same roof but only by name.

This practice isn’t unique to the Farnese Vini team. For example what could be more Italian than a Colnago frame… only the Colnago-CSF team is registered in Ireland. This is presumably related to tax, Italian companies exploit low payroll taxes in Britain and Ireland. I’m no tax lawyer but this is sailing close to the wind, stretching rules on employment across the European Union a little bit further than they are meant to go. Other companies have got in trouble for this, for example European airlines have tried to register staff in one country and operate in another to save money and got fined.

Summary
Most teams are registered in their home country but business is international and some teams chose to fly under a different flag for tax purposes. That said, I can’t imagine Greenedge chose Italy for its low payroll taxes.

  • Footnote: I’ve updated the item here to confirm Greenedge’s Italian status seems to be temporary. The team have asked the UCI to amend this.
Larry T. December 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Greenedge’s official location may be temporary but you’ve already noted the affiliation with the Australian Institute for Sport in the province of Varese. More than once we’ve seen cars marked with the Greenedge logo driving the wine roads of Barolo and Barbaresco…so SOMEONE involved with this team knows where the good wines come from! Or perhaps they’re working on a travel/vacation program for team supporters as Cervelo Test Team did? As anyone who’s read much of anything I post here knows, I believe there’s no better place to be a cyclist or cycling enthusiast than ITALIA. The Tuscan-based team of Farnese Vini is an interesting question – based on how many Tuscan cyclists have been nabbed as tax dodgers (Cipollini, Bettini, etc.) and their reputation for tight-fistedness my guess is the reason they’re registered in the UK is tax-related. The Italians are talking about taxing the Catholic Church these days!

GD December 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

nice observation. some of the teams represent the very top of the sport but you sense they’re really just a small business run by people who know a lot about cycling but score low on admin.

INRNGFAN December 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Best cycling blog on the planet.

TheSkullKrusher December 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

what would i do w/o this blog informing me of all this awesome info? i do not mean that sarcastically, either!!

HappyBuddha December 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I agree with INRNGFN and TheSkullKrusher, great blog!

Touriste-Routier December 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

@GD Why would you say these teams score low on admin?

It seems to me they know a lot; Tax Evasion is a crime, but Tax Avoidance is a birthright! If they can find legal means to legitimately operate at lower costs, and still accomplish their goals, they are doing everyone in their organization a favor.

Jerome December 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Last night I finished going back through the archives and reading all the inner ring articles and I must also agree on the quality of the blog, however the first article mentions that you have blogged before, would you be able to provide a link?

Larry T. December 22, 2011 at 9:55 pm

T-R, Sometimes I think tax evasion is the national sport of Italy. The new sheriff in town, Mario Monti is trying to crack down on it to howls of protest. They even run TV spots here pointing out that when everyone pays their fair share, public services (and therefore the public) benefit. Not sure if the Berlusconi-class plutocrats care much about their fellow Italians but at least they’re trying. Same with organized crime.
As we roll into the new year, let me say BRAVO to Mr. Inner Ring for an excellent blog, keep up the great work!

The Inner Ring December 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for the kind words, it’s been fun writing the things and engaging with cyclists from around the world. Any suggestions to improve things are most welcome, I can’t promise to adopt them all but they do help.

GD: true, these are businesses with a staff of 30-150 people with a big focus on the athletic side. All the same some are multinational, highly successful and a few go as far as pushing the boundaries of employment law in Europe.

Jerome: no, I think I deleted it all. It was just a short attempt that fizzled out.

Squamish Dude December 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Now this is the kind of story I want to read!!!!!
Your blog rules, keep it up…

mattgenton January 3, 2012 at 2:51 am

hi to all at inrng.com i thought i had sent this newyears eve but it didnt send so i have sent it again happy new year to every one
– matt-gent

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