Saudi Arabia-backed SRJ Sports Investments is in talks with multiple pro cycling teams to invest €250 million in a new racing league, according to a report from Reuters.
Visma-Lease a Bike and the Ineos Grenadiers are among the teams involved in the potential venture, which will reportedly see SRJ “finalise commercial aspects of a deal over the next two months after prevailing in an auction over other investors.” The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, which has invested in LIV Golf and other global sports ventures, owns SRJ.
According to Cyclingnews, the project has ties to the One Cycling initiative that Visma team manager Richard Plugge has been promoting.
The Jayco-AlUla men’s team and Liv-AlUla-Jayco women’s team are already sponsored by Al-Ula, a tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, but a €250 million deal with several WorldTour squads would represent a serious increase in Saudi Arabia’s involvement in professional cycling. The proposed project comes at a time when the country and companies based there have been investing large sums of money in a wide array of sports. Beyond golf and potentially cycling, F1 racing and football (soccer) have also seen an inflow of cash from Saudi Arabian-based interests in recent years.
Apparently, neither the ASO nor RCS Sport, organizers of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, respectively (along with numerous other events), are involved in the proposed league for now. How any new racing series and the teams that involve themselves with it might interact with already existing events on the traditional cycling calendar remains to be seen.
According to Reuters, Visma-Lease a Bike has addressed the possibility of the new league moving forward, saying, “This idea is being explored, as many more ideas are being explored to come up with a sustainable business model for cycling in the future.”
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