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Deloitte report puts Sky/British Cycling tie-up in the clear

Review finds partnership poses no risk to UK Sport investment. Phew!

A report by consulting firm Deloitte into the relationship between Team Sky and British Cycling has been delivered today.

The report, entitled ’The Impact of Team Sky on British Cycling’s World Class Performance Programme’ was commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling to look into the unique Team Sky/British Cycling relationship. Some see that relationship as having the potential to create a conflict of interest between a commercial operation and a publicly-funded sporting body  while also raising questions about the effective use of resources shared between the two bodies.

That is a suggestion that the organisations involved are particularly sensitive to, as found out when we raised the issue in relation to British Team Sky riders withdrawing from the Commonwealth Games – a move that could have been interpreted as putting the interests of Team Sky above those of various national federations. On that occasion Dave Brailsford himself got on the phone to us to dispel any such notion.

As for today’s report, officially it is supposed to ensure that any significant risks to UK Sports’ Lottery-funded Cycling World Class Performance Programme are identified and managed. A press release issued today states that the report has concluded that there are no major risks to that programme.

It says the issues highlighted principally related to the clarity of roles and responsibilities of key staff, of financial accounting and transparency between the two programmes, and the need for more effective communication between the various partners.

Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said: “The Deloitte review has done exactly what we hoped it would. It has provided us with very good insight at a crucial time and helped to give us assurance about our investment. British Cycling has long been one of the outstanding performers in British Olympic and Paralympic sport and it was very important that this review was conducted, in order that any potential risk to our significant investment in the sport was highlighted and managed appropriately.

“The fact that the review identified no major risks to the World Class Performance Programme is good news for everyone involved and indeed our aspirations generally as we look towards London 2012. Where there are actions to be taken, they are for the ongoing benefit of the programme and our investment and we will continue to monitor progress and work closely with British Cycling to implement the recommendations.”

Ian Drake, Chief Executive of British Cycling, said: “It would have been easy for us to rest on our laurels after the success we enjoyed in Beijing, but that’s never been our style and the creation of Team Sky marked the start of an exciting new phase for British Cycling. We were always confident that it would have a positive impact on our Olympic and Paralympic aspirations and indeed we are now really starting to see the benefits in terms of rider performance.

“That being said, we have learned a lot from the early days of Team Sky and are indeed continuing to learn as we look to constantly improve the way we operate. This review has been an important part of aiding that process and, whilst we’re obviously pleased that no major risks have been highlighted, we are working alongside UK Sport to implement recommendations that will help maximise the benefit of the relationship with Team Sky to the World Class Performance Programme.”

Key recommendations of the review include:
• Creation of an operational document focused primarily on the dual British Cycling and Team Sky roles and responsibilities to ensure these are effectively monitored and managed, both from a resource and financial perspective. This document would be reviewed quarterly and would sit alongside the already comprehensive Service Level Agreement.
• Recruitment of a Finance Director by British Cycling (this role is currently being advertised).
• Continuation of the close working relationship between British Cycling and UK Sport so that any new opportunities and risks to the World Class Programme are identified, discussed and managed at an early stage.

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