Could you crowd fund a world tour team?

Just watched PEAK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f173FH_wEx0 - the documentary about NTT and it got me thinking (again) about the weird state of world tour teams, how they’re funded and the constantly changing team names.

Has anyone ever tried to crowd fund a team? Is that even possible?

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SHOULD you crowd fund a world tour team is a more interesting question. This is a professional league and there is value for being part of it. Is applying a non-profit approach warranted in a profit driven model?

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Doesn’t seem realistic. It would have to be a huge funding campaign, repeated year after year.

A few have tried to save teams with crowdfunding and pretty good visibility… with poor results.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saveargyle-keep-cannondale-drapac-alive-in-2018#/

https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/drops-womens-team-saved-after-crowdfunding-campaign/

https://www.gofundme.com/f/r4nsa-bk20

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There was this instance as well:

Maybe not in the WT stage but a Conti team, yes I think it could work, where having team bus’s and all the “perks” of a WT team isn’t totally necessary. With the right vision, and racing the National series such as USA Crits, or NRS (National Racing Series in Aus) gather a few sponsors for equipment etc.

I think the development teams like Hagens Berman or women’s teams have a lot better chance to be crowd founded and the founding will have much greater impact than for WT team as they operate on a fraction of the budget. Not to mention social aspect of these teams that is much greater than pure entertainment that WT teams provide.

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IQ2 Powermeter Pro team here we come…

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Considering ~1/3 of US healthcare costs are crowdfunded*, a pro team would be small potatoes.

I say go for it but unfortunately the Italians seem to have beat us to it many years ago:

*edit: see post below for correct facts on the matter.

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While a lot of popular crowdfunding is nonprofit, it isn’t necessarily.

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There’s no way this is even remotely true. It doesn’t even pass a back-of-the-envelope smell test.

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You’re correct, I mis-remembered the facts.

~1/3 of crowdfunding money goes to pay for healthcare.

On the site GoFundMe.

(Articles seem to have a hard time deciding if is campaigns or donations and by count or by dollar, but that’s a more minor concern.)

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In other news…it’s kinda sorta already been done outside the WT.

BCN (Black Cyclists Network in the UK) did a GFM this year to start a full fledged racing team for 2021. L39GION of LA also did crowdfunding to keep their wheels turning.

Is it that different to fan owned football teams?

Bayern Munich are currently the best football team in the world and the fans own 80% of the club.

Yes, it’s different. Crowdfunding is giving away your money, it’s not investment or purchase; there is no ownership.

Eh?

…anyway:

Not quite that simple. Bayern München eV is the original club, which is made up of its members (who could be seen as the owners). The club controls 75% of the stock market registered Bayern München AG, which runs the professional football team. The other 25% are owned by Adidas, VW, Allianz and other afaik. Those companies of course finance the professional team (along with TV money etc), even though the legal control lies with the member-owned club.

If you’d want to transport that model over to cycling, you’d have a crowed-owned team, but the money would still have to come from sponsors.

Doesn’t have to be not-for-profit, although it would be cool to set up a team like NTT that is based around some sort of positive impact, and the yearly raises would be ‘donations’ rather than membership payments. A bit like L36ION.

You could also go down the equity crowdfunding route, on crowdcube or seedrs for example, only one line on the cap table that way too I believe.

The management would be difficult, a bit like trying to manage something decentralised, like a cryptocurrency. Who hires the management team? I guess you could create some sort of democratic voting system…?

You could have tiered donations which get different perks:

  • £200 per year = member only group Zwift/TR rides with the pros
  • £500 per year = above + member only events once per year in various cities around the world
  • all the way up to a seat in the team car once per year

£20 per month subscriptions are not that unrealistic considering how much Training Peaks is :thinking:! You could have a chance at free perks for those who can’t afford it. I’m sure there are enough wealthy cycling fans willing to pay way more too!

The football analogy is interesting, keeping the same team name (and not being named per a sponsor) creates these Bayern fanatics who build a personal identity around their team - that’s hard to do when your team is called something different each year. Lots of people (used to) pay £60+ per game to watch a premier league team!

Watching cycling live is predominantly free, that’s great, and that should continue, but what about introducing some sort of ticketed events too, that would reduce the reliance on sponsorship!?

I could rant on this all day :rofl::rofl:

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Slipstream did a crowd funding to fill a budget gap, they didn’t get anywhere near the target but the response attracted the attention of EF.

In women’s cycling Drops did something similar and again raised some money but not what they were looking for

Indeed, they couldn’t get anywhere near the target, but, one also has to remember it was a hail mary at literally the last second.

I think it would be an enormous order to pull it off for a WorldTour Team, but I also think if they had a longer runway, with recurring subs designed into it - and mainstream media attention they might be able to do it. For example, I think if a Team Sky/Ineos/WhateverTheHeckThey’reCalledNowThatICan’tSpell, were to announce in July that they’re going crowd funding for the following year, I think they could pretty easily pull it off. It’d get the mainstream media attention that’d pull in people over the course of a few months, with defaulted-on recurring subs, etc…

But it also has to be for a team that’s deeply loved by not just a core fan set, but also the larger country they associate with. And they’ve gotta have big names that have big social media presense.

While components of Argyle have notoriety within the cycling community, especially on the media side. The team as a whole doesn’t have mainstream popularity such that Jane or John Doe on the street of America knows who they are. Whereas then Team Sky did.

Just my two cents. I’m sure we’ll eventually see it.

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I wonder how much does it actually cost in any ‘regular’ year to fund a mid-tier world tour team with an average number of riders, equipment and staff?

Must be multi millions I’m guessing, given costs for wages for riders, support crew, management, chefs, masseurs, drivers, food, equipment, travel, vehicles, kit etc??

I’d be interested to know actual ball park numbers out of curiosity; assuming only a percentage of this cost is ‘offset’ by sponsorship