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Saddled with debt, RCS Sport may be forced to sell races

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Nov. 11, 2015
  • Updated Nov. 11, 2015 at 12:44 PM EDT
The Giro d'Italia may be up for sale if RCS Sport is unable to resolve its debt. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com (File).

MILAN (VN) — The Giro d’Italia and RCS Sport’s other races could be up for sale Thursday after a board meeting. According to newspaper Milano Finanza, that may be the only option left to help RCS Mediagroup deal with its $472 million of debt. RCS Sport reported $48 million in turnover and $840,000 in losses last year.

The Milan financial newspaper reported Tuesday that RCS Mediagroup is being forced to deal with its debt. After months of trying to find new partners, it has to take drastic measures. If the board decides, it could cut free its 10 races including the Giro, Milano-Sanremo, and Il Lombardia. RCS Sport also organizes basketball games and marathons.

Along with RCS Sport, Milano Finanza reports that RCS Mediagroup could sell Unidad Editorial, the Spanish group that publishes newspaper Marca and other titles. Instead, RCS will focus on its newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport, which began the Giro in 1909.

“From my point of view, there’s no news,” RCS Sport general manager Paolo Bellino told VeloNews. “I don’t know anything about the news being reported. I can’t comment on news that doesn’t exist.

“For RCS Mediagroup, sport is at the center of its aim, I find it difficult to believe that they’d sell RCS Sport,” Bellino added. “There haven’t been offers and the company’s not for sale. It was never up for sale.”

Times remain tough in Italy, which has yet to recover from the Eurozone crisis and is the most indebted European country after Greece. This summer, its public debt reached a new high above 2.2 trillion euro ($2.3 trillion). Milano Finanza reported RCS Mediagroup debt down from 526 million euro ($564m), but still at $472 million.

“They had [such a high number before] too,” Bellino said. “It’s just enough to open up the newspaper and see that this is not an easy period. All the companies are going through a difficult time.”

If the news proves true, the move could create a power shift in cycling. Behind Tour de France organizer ASO (19 races), RCS Sport (10 races) is No. 2 in the game. Flanders Classics is cycling’s other big race organizer with the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and other events.

ASO reportedly inquired about buying RCS Sport two years ago, although its race director, Christian Prudhomme, told VeloNews the rumor was not true. It is unclear if ASO would be interested or if other buyers could be knocking on RCS Mediagroup’s door.

On offer would be a substantial stake in cycling. RCS Sport counts in its portfolio the Giro d’Italia, Milano-Sanremo, Il Lombardia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Strade Bianche, Roma Maxima, Milano-Torino, the Giro del Piemonte, the Abu Dhabi Tour, and the Dubai Tour.

It would not be the only change in recent history. After $12.1 million went missing two years ago, RCS Mediagroup cut several people, including former sport manager Michele Acquarone. That case is still unresolved and is being investigated by Italian police.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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