Home Forums News Protect Our Winters: Update on British Cycling and Shell

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  • Protect Our Winters: Update on British Cycling and Shell
  • stwhannah
    Full Member

    When British Cycling announced its partnership with Shell, the folks at Protect Our Winters wrote an open letter to British Cycling setting out their …

    By stwhannah

    Get the full story here:

    https://singletrackworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/protect-our-winters-update-on-british-cycling-and-shell/

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    All sounds like a good thing…but also suspect there are far fewer green companies with the amount of money they are giving to BC…which is the main problem here – huge costs that need deep pockets to pay for.
    Hopefully this will start creating good change though, slowly but surely.

    1
    traildog
    Free Member

    7% reduction in membership since the deal has certainly cost BC. I’m not saying that’s totally down to the deal, but there are certainly people who left because of it. It’s difficult to get those members back as well.

    5
    bigdawg
    Free Member

    for me it was totally down to ‘that’ deal… Sent my (racing) membership card back as soon as it was confirmed Shell would be sponsoring them and racing…

    Total greenwash and this comment doesn’t inspire hope for change …

    ”Despite a lack of specific commitments regarding their Shell partnership”

    1
    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    All sounds like a good thing…but also suspect there are far fewer green companies with the amount of money they are giving to BC…which is the main problem here – huge costs that need deep pockets to pay for.

    This is the problem that at the levels of sponsorship required (tens of millions of ££), there are very few companies willing and able to commit that sort of capital. And most of them are evil in some way shape or form.

    You don’t get to have that sort of profit swilling around to be generously donated without being a little bit evil. HSBC, Shell, Esso (who sponsor Belgian Cycling Federation) – they’re all scum it’s just that they’re very rich scum who happen to occasionally contribute to good things. If you don’t accept that money then there’s no-one queuing up to be an alternative. Especially not a good ethical company. Ethical companies don’t have those profits precisely because they’re ethical!

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    Why does there have to be only one sponsor? Just get the GB jerseys slathered up like a trade team with logos from Ecotricity, Triodos and Vestas.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Why does there have to be only one sponsor? Just get the GB jerseys slathered up like a trade team with logos from Ecotricity, Triodos and Vestas.

    Commercial reasons around how much exposure each sponsor gets plus the fact that you’re after at least a medium term commitment (like 4 years minimum) so if you have multiple small sponsors, all with individual logos, you start getting into the territory where A, B and C have all stayed on but X, Y and Z have all pulled out so you need to completely redesign the jersey again.

    andyrm
    Free Member

    There’s also the question whether the likes of Triodos, Ecotricity etc stand to gain commercially from putting in a share of Shell equivalent money. Will it move the needle for their business in a more positive way per £ invested than other marketing channels? What’s the upside? Do they have a “need” to spend with cycling to bolster their green image/credentials like Shell do? I’d argue not.

    It’s an uncomfortable truth, but sports sponsorship is a commercial activity, driven by commercial goals, to meet commercial aims. Its just another means of advertising. And if an organisation/team needs £X to operate, they’re limited in choice of sponsors (before they even get to desire/objectives/goals) by who might have that sum of money.

    It’s a tough one to balance and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer TBH, unless every BC member us prepared to pay an uplifted membership fee on a locked in multi-year contract (with penalty clauses for early cancellation) to offset the revenue gap, and then have no title sponsor.

    3
    ped
    Full Member

    bigdawgFree Member

    for me it was totally down to ‘that’ deal… Sent my (racing) membership card back as soon as it was confirmed Shell would be sponsoring them and racing…

    Same here. I’ve been locked in my training bunker since then, as by the time the deal ends I’ll be at least one age category older and I’m coming out fighting … 🤣

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    This is the problem that at the levels of sponsorship required (tens of millions of ££), there are very few companies willing and able to commit that sort of capital. And most of them are evil in some way shape or form.

    Yes – there’s lots of desire for cycling (or rather competitive racing as an economically viable proffessional sport) to get external/non cycling sponsors.

    Banks, oil companies, automotive manufacturers, unhealthy caffinated drinks, and online pornographers have stepped up to the plate.

    And apparently all of them are evil and making cycling immeasurably worse.

    4
    irc
    Full Member

    So I take it everyone who is against Shell sponsorship doesn’t use cars?

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Sounds like POW have had BC on the naughty step. I’m sure any organisation is happy to have a few execs do some training as some whitewash for doing something a bit off that nonetheless massively benefited the org financially. I don’t buy it that these people didn’t know or understand the basics of the stuff they’ve now been trained on.

    1
    cookeaa
    Full Member

    This is the problem that at the levels of sponsorship required (tens of millions of ££), there are very few companies willing and able to commit that sort of capital. And most of them are evil in some way shape or form.

    I still question the ‘required’ aspect, which stems from the Days of London 2012 and the Team Sky alignment (arguably also a problematic corporate ‘partner’ IMO).

    BC don’t really give a shit about much apart from olympic golds and elite competition, the muggles are really only there to fund the competitive top 1%, either with membership fees or a %age from every tank of diesel…

    Shell (like all their competitors TBF) will happily use cycling to greenwash their brand.

    Anyone can attend a free course, doesn’t mean they’re going to practice what they learned (or probably already knew)…

    Not that I can really talk, my BC licence just auto-renewed. :(

    2
    Tom-B
    Free Member

    So I take it everyone who is against Shell sponsorship doesn’t use cars?

    Ooh congratulations on the pointless whataboutery of the thread prize! You of course mustn’t use a car at all (even to drive to a shitty underpaid job, necessary to try and survive) if you rely on Shell for your fuel. Simply erect an ethical oil refinery replete with carbon capture storage technology (powered by renewables) in your back garden for a guilt free existence.

    Meanwhile in the real world it is possible to both despise the fossil fuel industry, or even capitalism more generally, whilst having utilitise the services that they offer in order to eke out a basic level of lifestyle in the developed world.

    andyrm
    Free Member

    Looking at the numbers purely objectively. The HSBC deal that preceded Shell was worth c.£2.5M/yr.

    Its likely BC will have had to take a hit as the deal ended early, so less time to find a replacement. Let’s call it £2M.

    They had a published shortfall of revenue of over £2M due to HSBC pulling out, so that gap NEEDED to be filled commercially.

    If they didnt take Shell and plug that gap, would each one of the 145k BC members be happy to sign up for a minimum term of 3 years, uplifted membership fee of £14/yr on topnof current fees, with nothing extra, to keep both Shell out and the lights on?

    I cant see 145k people guaranteeing that.

    politecameraaction
    Free Member

    It’s an uncomfortable truth, but sports sponsorship is a commercial activity, driven by commercial goals, to meet commercial aims. Its just another means of advertising

    True, but the whole sports business is awash with grifters spouting bullshit about how sponsorship isn’t just corporations paying to get a logo in front of eyeballs, it’s about an alignmemt of purpose between brand partners with shared values, this, that and the other. That’s a big chunk of what’s being called out here – the total contradiction between the fluff and the reality. Everyone understands why British Cycling accepts sponsorship, they should at least save us the hypocritical waffle in the meantime.

    So I take it everyone who is against Shell sponsorship doesn’t use cars?

    We should improve society somewhat

    1
    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    It’s an uncomfortable truth, but sports sponsorship is a commercial activity, driven by commercial goals, to meet commercial aims. Its just another means of advertising. And if an organisation/team needs £X to operate, they’re limited in choice of sponsors (before they even get to desire/objectives/goals) by who might have that sum of money.

    A lot of this goes back to the house of cards nature of cycle sport in general. There’s little in the way of direct money you can make from it other than TV rights. Most spectating is free by the roadside, the only exceptions being subsections of the sport that take place in closed arenas like MTB, CX, track etc and even then you can’t charge football or F1 levels of ticket prices.

    The costs to run a National Team (via the Federation) or WorldTour team are very high, not many companies have that sort of loose change floating around so you end up with:
    UAE Team Emirates / Bahrain-Victorious (human rights abuses, oil-rich)
    Ineos (petrochemicals & fracking)
    Shell (for BC) / Esso (for Belgium Cycling Federation)
    various banks and insurance companies
    Israel-PremierTech – yes I’d love to be sponsored by a country currently committing genocide, thanks for the cash
    Jayco-AlUla (Al-Ula is the tourist board for the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Ula, more human rights and oil issues)

    None of them are really the names that would be found in the phonebook of Good and Ethical Companies… It’s good that it’s being called out, that there’s awareness around it and that organisations like BC are having to do some damage limitation – although as mentioned above I’d rather they do away with the “brand values and alignment” nonsense and just say “well they gave us a fuckton of money, do you have any other ideas cos we’ve phoned round all the nice people and they have nothing to give”.

    andyrm
    Free Member

    I fully agree PCA! There would be better deals done, stronger partnerships and less noise if all parties were just honest about the fact its a transaction of money in return for eyeballs/positioning/storytelling to achieve a business goal.

    I’ve almost finished reading Rich Paul’s book about he built Klutch Sports, and the secret to his success is his brutal honesty with athletes, teams, rights holders and sponsors. Cycling as a whole could learn a hell of a lot from him and the NBA ecosystem in general.

    nickc
    Full Member

    So I take it everyone who is against Shell sponsorship doesn’t use cars?

    I think sometimes that companies like Shell operate like the mafia. They act real nice and say things like “look, we want to deal drugs on the street corner, but in exchange, we’ll spruce up the area a bit, make sure all the other violent drug dealers stay away, all you have to do is look the other way and not tell the cops, otherwise…”

    You’ve no real choice, and you’re still complicit, and the mafia are still making piles of cash dealing drugs, but the alternative…

     

    1
    cookeaa
    Full Member

    but the alternative…

    Is what specifically in the context of cycle sponsorship? There are other organisations with sponsorship budgets, maybe pro cycling needs to contract a little, rather than keep chasing richer sponsors.

    I mean is it a bit like with F1 when they finally booted tobacco sponsorship?

    The sport survived, thrived even and found other, less lung cancer inducing sponsors. OK most sponsors come with some sort of ‘ethical challenges’ but, as already noted, does cycling really want to become a go to sport for environmental terrorists and Human rights abusers to sports/green wash themselves?

    It’s almost like they’re seeking out the organisations with money who are diametrically opposite everything cycling and bikes seem to stand for, in fact I’m surprised BC haven’t been chasing Marlboro’s marketing department.

    Edukator
    Free Member

    So I take it everyone who is against Shell sponsorship doesn’t use cars?

    Yup an EV. No I don’t use gas and PV provides my leccy. And British Cycling should know better, it brings the sport into disrepute which isn’t good for cyclists.

    dazzydw
    Free Member

    Anyone else get visions of that staff training day at Wernham Hogg?

    grimep
    Free Member

    Protect winter??

    What a time to be alive………

    Edukator
    Free Member

    Says one of the sub species of homo sapiens facing extinction, the climatic change denier. :)

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    And British Cycling should know better, it brings the sport into disrepute which isn’t good for cyclists.

    I suspect they do, but given this level of sport isn’t about the sport (it is about winning) then there are very few options to get the levels of money required.

    I’m absolutely not defending or backing this, but as mentioned several times, at that level, the choices for sponsors are very thin on the ground, so there is little choice on whether to take the money or not (there isn’t an option).

    Proper sad state to be in but it is the same as that top level everywhere – it all costs money and medal chasing is never cheap.

    I’d prefer if they didn’t have the sponsorship, but I’m aware it can’t be helped…unless another big name with better ethics and principals suddenly finds itself with a huge pile of money to support medal chasing.

    mattsccm
    Free Member

    It only brings the sport into disrepute if people make a fuss. I assume that all those antis won’t be the same people who drove miles to screw up the FoD this morning.

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