A short note to observe the contract position of Vincenzo Nibali. The rider known as “The Shark of Messina” has a contract with his Liquigas team that expires at the end of the year and he and his agent are busy trying to get the best deal by looking at other teams.
It is said both BMC and Astana are interested in Nibali, certainly the Kazakh team is very interested in hiring him. But for now the rules state a rider cannot sign a deal with another team.
2.15.120 For any change of team between two seasons, the transfer period extends from 1 August to 31 December… …A UCI ProTeam or licence applicant may only recruit riders during the transfer period. For the purposes of this article «recruit» shall be deemed to mean concluding a contract with a rider to ride for the UCI ProTeam or licence applicant’s team.
In short, if a team wants to sign a rider for 2013 then it can’t sign a deal until 1 August. But note the word “conclude”, there is nothing to stop discussions and even to enter into a “pre-contract”. So whilst a deal can’t be signed, everything else can be lined up, Nibali can have the contract in his pocket along with a working pen for the rest of the summer.
Right now Nibali is with Liquigas and in a press release issued by his team says he’s going nowhere and that everyone has until 1 August to sort things. Formally this is true but it is also the case Nibali has shaken hands on a deal with another team or even signed a document setting out all the terms and conditions of his employment with a new squad but which does not amount to the formal signing of an employment contract. In other words he is going but has yet to complete the final, formal step.
We’ll see what happens with this rider. It’s not normal to see a rider’s contract played out in public like this but Nibali makes an interesting case as he’s a very valuable rider. This is thanks to his past performances, his current collection of points and above all his potential, both in terms of results and points. Arguably Italy’s leading stage race rider he is aged 27 and many years younger than the likes of Michele Scarponi and Ivan Basso.
Indeed Nibali is one of those riders with a guaranteed seat in the contractual game of musical chairs. The children’s game sees people dancing and sitting down. Nibali’s status as a top rider means he can have a seat on any team and his salary is so large that other riders, existing or potential recruits, will have to keep dancing until Nibali seals the deal.
Either way, the point of this note is to say rider cannot sign a deal but they can agree everything, including an agreement to sign the contract.
The rules say a rider can’t sign a contract with a new team until 1 August. This might be in breach of normal employment laws that let anyone change jobs when they want but that’s for another day. Right now note the signature is only the last step of the process, it is possible for a rider to have everything in place to sign a new deal but it is only inked in August; indeed it is in a team’s interest to keep hold of a rider if only in public for as long as possible. This applies to Nibali but also to many other names, especially the stars who can find teams queuing to sign them. The UCI rule and the “transfer” date of 1 August is merely a matter of paperwork.