The annual look at the UCI’s finances, a chance to follow the money behind the governing body. You can download the full report from the UCI website or scan the summary below.
As a reminder the UCI is cycling’s governing body and it has eight primary activities: road, track, mountain, BMX, para-cycling, cyclo-cross, indoor and trials… the last one being the test of balance rather than the past proclivity to issue law suits. The UCI sets the rules for the sport but “governing body” implies a degree of authority it doesn’t always possess, especially in men’s road cycling where it has to juggle competing interests. All the numbers here are in Swiss Francs (CHF) because the governing body is based in Aigle, Switzerland – inside a small building tucked behind a retail park – and the exchange rate is mentioned below but for shorthand you can equate one Franc to one Euro or Dollar.
The three charts show once again the UCI is reliant on road cycling and more specifically its World Championships. The first shows how the host city fees, essentially from the Doha road world championships, made up almost half of the UCI’s income in 2016 and in 2017 the Bergen world championships were less lucrative but still counted for plenty. Doha wasn’t memorable for sport but provided a CHF 22.3 million. But contrast the 2017 event in Bergen seemed jolly but ended with Bergen 2017 AS, the local organising entity, going bankrupt and leaving a debt to the UCI, it has booked a bad debt of CHF 1.14 million which means it’s still holding out for this sum but banking on it. The new “Urban World Championships” (mainly BMX and trials) were launched as part of the UCI’s deal with Wanda Sports and ran at a small loss.
2017 saw a big fall in revenue which looks bad but can be explained. First there’s the comparison between the bumper Worlds in Doha and the Bergen bankruptcy which accounts for about ten million Francs. Next comes the Olympic revenues and to explain the UCI is a member of the International Olympic Committee and gets allocated money from the Olympics and under new accounting rules it recognises all this money from 2016 to 2020 up front and so line of CHF 21.788 million for 2016 is something the UCI used to spread across the period of an Olympic cycle.
As if to ram home that Doha was lucrative and Bergen less so we see the Worlds in 2016 delivered an “operating result”, jargon for profit, of CHF 15 million. As bad as Bergen was it still helped to deliver CHF 10 million in profits for organising the Worlds. The road worlds remains the UCI’s single biggest source of income: the road worlds bring in more than the BMX, cyclo-cross, track and MTB worlds and World Cups combined.
- The UCI collected CHF 1.285 million compared to CHF 1.237 million the previous year for anti-doping, largely levies on races, teams and riders from prize money and fees and some of this funds the UCI’s anti-doping activities such as its Legal Anti-Doping Service while the quasi-independent Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation has a total budget of about CHF 7 million
- The UCI has a velodrome at its HQ and repairs to the roof resulted in accidental damage closing the track for some time meaning no income, it has made an insurance claim for CHF 598,000
- The UCI’s restaurant and canteen turns over a million francs a year and operates at a small loss, if you’re passing you’re welcome to drop in as its open to all
- Presidential salary spend fell from CHF 312,000 to CHF 308,000 but spending on pension and social charges went up from CHF 75,000 to 86,000. There’s no explanation of the split between the outgoing President Brian Cookson and his replacement David Lappartient but a separate note says Cookson was resident in Switzerland during his time at the UCI, David Lappartient isn’t and his pay packet is subject to French social security law which means it could be higher
- The UCI’s finance director is Jeremy Conrad-Pickles, a Briton who remains despite the exodus of Brits when Brian Cookson was ejected last year
- Staff headcount at the UCI rose by one to 115 in 2017
- The UCI lost half a million francs dabbling in the foreign exchange markets, it is exposed to currency risk as it has income and expenditure in both Euros and Swiss francs and tries to hedge against this
- The value of bank guarantees lodged with the UCI by World Tour and Pro Conti jumped from CHF 95.5 million to CHF 111.3 million a pro rata increase in the total salary count for these two tiers, presumably reflecting both a rise in the average pro salary but also the expansion of the Pro Conti ranks from 22 to 27 teams
UCI World Tour: The UCI gives accounts for it but the funding is controlled by a committee called the Professional Cycling Council which includes the UCI but also the teams, riders associations, race organisers and others. Here is the income statement for 2017:
Note the total revenues of CHF 3.5 million for the World Tour. As much as the World Tour is the big shop window for the sport, the UCI isn’t collecting a fortune from it and the income here is held in an account effectively under joint control of the UCI, the pro teams and the big race organisers. The teams are keen to have more control of this, to take over promotion and admin from the UCI, a story to watch in the coming months and years perhaps.
Note there’s no separate account of the UCI Womens World Tour, it’s a label rather than an actual concept with its structures and regulations. The Women’s World Tour remains a copy-paste of the UCI’s Continental rulebook, the men’s third tier that is pro-am and there’s specific mention of women’s cycling in the accounts behind a line of “other governance” which includes equipment testing and motor detection. Talking of which we’re likely to see an increase in expenses for the next set of accounts with the new X-ray testing regime and also the UCI’s video commissaire, both of which require more staff to operate but also a technology and vehicles to transport them in.
A big fall in revenue for 2017 but that’s largely because 2016 saw a big increase thanks to the Doha Worlds and the accounting policy change that saw the UCI declare several years’ income from the Olympics in one lump sum. Otherwise there’s not too much change, 2017 was still Brian Cookson’s final year and so if there’s going to be a change in priorities and spending under David Lappartient the numbers won’t start to show until next year. What is worth remembering once again is that the UCI is a medium sized governing body with a small HQ tucked behind a retail park in rural Switzerland and its annual budget is less than that of Team Sky.
Exchange rate on 31 December 2017 CHF 100 = US$102 = €85 = £75.