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Sir Bradley Wiggins has "lost absolutely everything and doesn't have a penny" after bankruptcy, reveals lawyer

The five-time Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner “does not have an address” and has been forced to “sofa surf”, with his lawyer claiming that he got “ripped off” and “shafted” on his finances by “army of so-called advisers”

In a shocking turn of events that has left Britain's third-most decorated Olympian "embarrassed", Sir Bradley Wiggins, who was declared bankrupt last week, has been forced to sleep on the couches of friends and families and is basically homeless, after his lawyer revealed that he "has lost lost absolutely everything" and "doesn't have a penny".

News broke last weekend that Wiggins, who retired in 2016 after a glittering professional cycling career, becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France and winning eight Olympic medals, five of them gold, was declared bankrupt. He could also be forced to sell all his trophies and medals — including his bespoke Tour trophy that he won in 2012.

The 44-year-old had been facing financial difficulties for the last few years. In 2020, his company Wiggins Rights Limited entered voluntary liquidation, with creditors including HM ­Revenue & Customs, who were owed over £300,000. 

In November last year, there were already reports that Wiggins was facing bankruptcy over unpaid debts totalling nearly £1 million, after documents filed at Companies House by liquidators revealed that he was yet to repay any of the money he was said to have agreed to satisfy about to a loan made to him.

Sir Bradley Wiggins with his fifth Olympic gold medal (copyright Britishcycling.org_.uk).jpg

> Sir Bradley Wiggins' medals and trophies set to be seized after being declared bankrupt

However, the news still came as a shock to many, with fans extending their sympathies and hoping for a bounce-back for Wiggins. Now, his lawyer's comments, reported by Daily Mail, have shone light on his compounded miseries that have come with his financial ordeals.

"In reality, Brad is sofa-surfing. He stays with friends and family. I don’t know where he stayed last night, I don’t know where he will stay tonight or tomorrow night. He doesn’t have an address... It is a total mess," said barrister Alan Sellers, head of sports law at Liverpool solicitors Bond Turner. 

"He has lost absolutely everything. His family home, his home in Majorca, his savings and investments. He doesn’t have a penny. It’s a very sad state of affairs."

Sellers added that the former Team Sky rider, who was an integral part of a squad that would begin the domination of world cycling for years to come, was left "embarrassed". He said: "I've said to Bradley that 'what you’ve achieved can never be taken away from you. Life will be better when you’re debt free. And you’ve still got the support of the public'."

Sir Bradley Wiggins UCI Hour Record 03 picture credit Harry Dowdney from Rapha

> Check out Bradley Wiggins’ UCI Hour Record Pinarello Bolide HR

Wiggins, who was reportedly worth £13million as recently as 2017, has a long list of varied creditors, ranging from HM Revenue and Customs to a 25-year-old former rider with Team Wiggins, the cycling outfit he set up to nurture young talent, who is claiming an unpaid sum of £583.

After the bankruptcy hearing at Lancaster County Court, Paul Rouse, head of client services at the accountancy firm Forvis Mazars had said that "a bankruptcy trustee will be appointed to seize and sell his assets, potentially including medals and trophies of his successful sporting past, as was the case with Boris Becker recently".

The Mail also reports that it will be for the trustee Kevin Murphy to decide whether they must be sold off, with one sports memorabilia valuer claiming that his five gold medals alone could together fetch up to £250,000.

It seems that Sellers has confirmed that Wiggins doesn't hold a lot of adoration for his medals, seeing them as "meaningless junk". He had ‘smashed’ his BBC sports personality trophy – a silver-plated replica TV camera – and keeps his gold medals in a Co-op carrier bag.

Wiggins joins a long list of sports personalities, including the aforementioned tennis star Boris Becker and boxer Joe Louis, who have been let down on the financial side by their advisers and consultants, with Sellers saying that he has been hard done by their errors.

He said: "There seems to be this army of so-called advisers who quite frankly rip these people off. And they are so busy being sportsmen that when it comes to their financial affairs, they just get shafted. That’s what happened to Brad."

Rouse had similar thoughts after the hearing last week, saying: "Those involved in elite sport are often focussed solely on their primary goals of winning titles and striving for sporting excellence.

"Professionals will surround them to advise on the financial benefits that follow that success, and they would be wise to ensure that their chosen advisors are trustworthy, and that they are safeguarding their client’s long-term position."

By the time he won his final gold medal in Rio in 2016, he ranke only behind Sir Andy Murray and golfer Justin Rose as the highest-earning Briton in sport, with his off-bike affairs were being handled by Simon Fuller’s XIX agency, who also managed David Beckham and Lewis Hamilton.

They helped him start Team Wiggins, making him one of the few riders to head his own bike-racing stable, and fulfilling his ambition to help grassroots cyclists maximise their potential.

Bradley Wiggins - image by Brendan A Ryan via Flickr

> Bradley Wiggins says "borderline rape" by former coach led to him using "cycling as distraction"

Since his retirement in 2016, however, he has spoken candidly of the pressures of coming to terms with fame, his struggles with depression and about the break-up of his marriage to his wife Cath, with whom he has two children, Ben and Bella.

A year ago, he also spoke out about the abuse he suffered as a child, calling it "borderline rape" and even let out the fact that he turned to cycling as a distraction. A few months later, he named Stan Knight, who died in 2003, as the coach who sexually abused him and other young riders.

He said that the coach would take him on training camps to a youth hostel in Dorset aged 12, sleep in the same bed and abuse him in the shower, accusations repeated in the account of another victim. He explained how the abuse would begin with "minor acts" presented under the pretence that Knight's actions were just to help with sporting performance.

In December 2020, not long after his company entered liquidation, a spokesperson said that Wiggins’s involvement in the business side of things was "not day to day," and that "this in no way affects Bradley's personal solvency."

As we reported in  the past, now Wiggins also risks losing the trademark rights to his own surname as well as his nickname ‘Wiggo’ which had been put up for sale by liquidators, while the supervisor of his Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA), which the rider entered in 2020, had also issued him with a notice of breach of the terms of that agreement.

Wiggins had previously told Cycling Weekly that his financial difficulties are "a very historical matter that involves professional negligence from [others] that has left a s*** pile with my name at the front of it to deal with". 

Sellers added: "We tried to keep all this hidden under wraps and resolve these issues, but it had gone too far."

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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18 comments

Avatar
Laz | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

the way he turned his back on cycling; took up smoking- suggests to me there was underlying issues for him in the sport- seems to me he was determined to self-destruct regardless. I dont know if it possible to cause someone to make peace with their past and look forward to tomorrow- but until he can come to terms with himself he will always be in need

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Blackthorne | 1 month ago
0 likes

There is a missing piece to this whole story. It isn't possible to go from many millions to nothing without taking massively stupid risks, engaging with shady types, gambling and not investing in long term assets such as property. 

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mdavidford replied to Blackthorne | 1 month ago
2 likes

How is something missing there? Your 'engaging with shady types' seems to be basically covered by 'army of so-called advisers'.

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john_smith replied to mdavidford | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

I think something similar happened to Freddy Maertens too.

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Bernard Augustus | 1 month ago
0 likes

I have mixed feeling on this.

If you are going to be a director of a company [i.e. Wiggins Rights Limited], then you should understand your legal position.  Directors have fiduciary duty, per the Companies Act.

What's more, if neglect is provable [like I ignored my duties because I trusted sharks to run the comapny], then this is insanely naive. 

What's more, no one talks about the people left in the wake of all of this.
Brad's wife is a director of Wiggins Rights Limited.

What about people like Si Cope who got stiffed because of the "envelope" after the team folded, but found himself untouchable because he did what was asked of him [possibly naively] by BC.  Brad [or Dave Brailsford] could have made a statement that would have taken the focus away from Si.  But they didn't own it.

And I suspect that Brad won't own this.  I just hope it doesn't bite Cath or his mother Linda.
 

Avatar
jaymack | 1 month ago
2 likes

Sport, pop-music and the glamorous world of the movies are full of tales such as this. Indeed it's so common it's a wonder that Sports Governing bodies don't have compulsory programmes to help prevent their rising stars from becoming tomorrow's bankrupts. It's as if all they care about is the medal haul. Oh, hang on...

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qwerty360 | 1 month ago
2 likes

See lottery winners and bankrupcy.

 

Make loads of money but through sports rather than more typical methods so have no real idea how to manage it (because that is a learned/trained skill). Then overspend and invest badly because they spent the time most of us are learning to manage money training to compete.

IMHO there should be some blaim on the various sporting organisations because sportspeople at this level were learning to compete in sport when the rest of us were learning survival skills (e.g. money management), so really support and training in this area should be provided, as should monitoring to make sure (unqualified) 'advisors' aren't taking advantage of them...

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dubwise replied to qwerty360 | 1 month ago
6 likes

So everyone but Wiggins is responsible?

Hmm, very good.

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Global Nomad | 1 month ago
5 likes

having advisors that you have appointed does not remove your own responsibility for making ill informed decisions. its unfortunate but blaming others doesnt tell the full story about ego getting the better of realistic thinking or planning. 

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Barraob1 replied to Global Nomad | 1 month ago
1 like

Didn't his charity help fund his big party, he's as much to blame for his current situation.

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stonojnr replied to Global Nomad | 1 month ago
1 like

It doesn't but it's naivety rather than ego that was the issue, he never knew how to handle the fame & success he achieved.

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Secret_squirrel replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
2 likes

So we are clear..... it costs nothing to keep putting your money in the bank. 

Investing it requires positive action on the owners part....

You can make 5% from passives on the stock market and similar amounts as a rental landlord (plus gaining another 5% from house price inflation every year).

Anything else is either much higher risk and/or a con.

Fools and their money...

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hawkinspeter replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
1 like

Secret_squirrel wrote:

So we are clear..... it costs nothing to keep putting your money in the bank. 

Investing it requires positive action on the owners part....

You can make 5% from passives on the stock market and similar amounts as a rental landlord (plus gaining another 5% from house price inflation every year).

Anything else is either much higher risk and/or a con.

Fools and their money...

Putting your money into a bank isn't a good idea as an investment as you'll likely get a smaller interest rate than inflation and so your money will depreciate over time.

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Bernard Augustus replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
2 likes

Surely a reduced buying power but circa £17m in the bank is better than being declared bankrupt?

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mdavidford | 1 month ago
4 likes

road.cc wrote:

after a studded professional cycling career

So that's what he's been up to since he retired from racing...

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Paul J replied to mdavidford | 1 month ago
1 like

Not that did him any good. He's just been left hard-up.

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Marty2 | 1 month ago
1 like

Does he have a SIPP pension?

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alchemilla | 1 month ago
11 likes

Shocking and very sad.
I hope he can rebuild his life.

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