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British Cycling appoints Jon Dutton as new permanent CEO

Former Rugby League World Cup CEO will fill the position after the controversial exit of Brian Facer

British Cycling has announced that Jon Dutton will take over acting CEO Danielle Every later this month, after recently concluding his tenure as CEO of 2021’s successful Rugby League World Cup events in England.

Dutton has enjoyed a wide-ranging 28-year career in the sports industry, including the role of Director of Readiness for the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart, in addition to being a Board member of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland.

He also has experience working for major organisations including the PGA European Tour and UEFA, and was Director of Projects and People for the Rugby Football League, before being appointed as the CEO of Rugby League World Cup.

British Cycling said: “An experienced and motivated leader, Jon is passionate about social impact, commercial growth and enabling sports to modernise through innovation. He is also a British Cycling member and has been an avid fan of the sport for more than four decades.”

Dutton’s appointment comes after former CEO Brian Facer stepped down with “immediate effect” in October 2022, after several events mired in great controversy, including its transgender participation policy and a sponsorship deal with oil giant Shell.

> British Cycling CEO Brian Facer leaves post with immediate effect

In the meantime, Cycling Delivery Director, Danielle Every, has been the acting CEO, who Dutton will take over from later this month after his stint in the world of rugby.

Dutton led the successful bid for last year’s Rugby League World Cup in England, and British Cycling said that “under Jon’s stewardship, the event was widely acclaimed for its successes in securing community investment, commitment to inclusion, broadcast and commercial partnerships and social impact, and it was recently nominated for three awards at the 2023 Sport Industry Awards”.

Following the appointment, Dutton said: “It is a privilege to be appointed as Chief Executive of British Cycling, and I am very much looking forward to getting started in the role.

“I am very grateful to the British Cycling Board for putting their faith in me and while the current landscape for all sports is challenging, there are also boundless opportunities for growth.

“Over the short term I look forward to meeting many of the people that contribute to ensuring that British Cycling continues to nurture talent, positively impact communities, and harness the success of our country's best riders to grow the sport at every level.”

> British Cycling and Shell: How HSBC pulling plug and COVID-19 hit governing body’s finances

British Cycling Chair, Frank Slevin, added: “I’m delighted to welcome Jon to the organisation at the end of what has been a really robust and competitive process to find the right candidate to lead our organisation forwards.

“The Board and I were hugely impressed by the breadth of Jon’s experience both within cycling and in the wider sport sector, alongside his ability to lead teams with purpose and drive them towards strategic and commercial success.

“After recently concluding a successful period at the helm of the Rugby League World Cup, we’re looking forward to Jon joining us later this month at an important time for our organisation, as we look to support the sport domestically and prepare our Great Britain Cycling Team riders for August’s UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland.”

British Cycling had been subject to a number of controversies lately. Almost a year ago, it suspended its transgender policy saying that the current system is “unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing”, after already being in the spotlight since the UCI’s decision to bar transgender cyclist Emily Bridges from competing in women’s British Omnium Championship.

> British Cycling’s “unacceptable” transgender policy suspension makes leading women's race sponsor pull out, as organisers weigh up offers

Then in October, it announced a long-term sponsor partnership with multinational oil and gas giant Shell UK, claims that the move will help accelerate its “path to net zero.”

However, it resulted in a barrage of criticisms, with charities like Greenpeace accusing British Cycling of greenwashing and members expressing shock at the partnership, many even suggesting that they would cancel their membership.

> Shell UK chairman David Bunch joins Active Travel England board

Great Britain's Sophie Capewell at 2022 UCI Track Worlds (copyright Alex Broadway, SWpix.com).JPG

Great Britain's Sophie Capewell at 2022 UCI Track Worlds (copyright Alex Broadway, SWpix.com)

> "Greenwashing, pure and simple" - fury as Shell UK sponsors British Cycling

Around the time of this announcement, internal documents were released in the US that showed the company, which insists it is committed to achieving net zero by 2050, had told employees in 2020 to never “imply, suggest, or leave it open for possible misinterpretation that (net zero) is a Shell goal or target.”

There was further controversy in September when it was forced to issue an apology after initially suggesting that cyclists should avoid riding their bikes during Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral and procession.

Last month, teams and riders alike called on British Cycling for safety improvements at races after a competitor was airlifted to hospital with a neck injury sustained in a crash with a car stopped on the course of the Wally Gimber Trophy in East Sussex.

Facer took up his position just under two years ago in November 2020, having previously worked as CEO of the Premiership rugby union side London Irish, overseeing its return to the capital after two decades of playing in Reading.

He replaced Julie Harrington, who had become the governing body’s CEO in March 2017. Her appointment came at a turbulent time for the organisation as it faced an independent review by UK Sport following allegations of bullying and discrimination, and a UK Anti-doping probe into potential wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky.

Dutton’s appointment comes during a tough time as questions loom over the future of cycling sport in Britain. However, there are reports that the governing body has shifted its focus from increasing its membership to other things, including the Glasgow World Championships this summer.

> Women's Tour cancelled for 2023, organisers cite lack of financial backing

Meanwhile, his predecessor Every has taken up the role of Chief Operating Officer at PGMOL, the body which oversees professional football referees and match officials in England — another role which is surely going to be smooth sailing and free from any controversies.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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6 comments

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... | 10 months ago
0 likes

BC has never been the same since Brian Cookson went, he did more in his time than pretty much all of the others.

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Steve K | 10 months ago
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A key first thing on his to do list for me is to sort out what BC's mission is.  They are the governing body of the sport of cycling, and they should focus on that - with Cycling UK as the voice for cycling as transport/utility.  There's obviously lots of overlap/common ground between the two, but there are also big differences and I think trying to cover all the territory is one of the things that has got them in a mess.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
3 likes

Was Facer's resignation ever explained? 

Surely they owe their members (who pay their wages and for which most racers have no choice about) an actual reason?

Avatar
Legin replied to Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
0 likes

They do like a scapegoat, perhaps they couldn't find one that time!

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Awavey replied to Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
1 like

nothing official, I assume he either was told, or felt, he had lost the support of the chair & board and couldnt continue.

Frank Slevins national council speech might fill some of the gaps on that if you read between the lines in it, repeated emphasis on being bold, taking leadership and listening for 2023, might imply they didnt think that was what they were getting in 2022.

Avatar
Legin | 10 months ago
3 likes

I wish him luck. The sport needs a credible and effective governing body. There are a lot of talented people at BC delivering good work for the sport and community. However there is something not quite right with the management culture that delivered so many own goals last year; they appear sloppy and disinterested in the membership and the views of the membership. He's got a big job on; fingers crossed!

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