Gerry Ryan, founder and current Mitchelton-Scott owner, talked to RIDE Media a few days after the announcement that Manuela Fundacion would take over the sponsorship of the team with the resumption of WorldTour racing.
“Well, the release probably went a bit early," said Ryan, "as Shayne (Bannan, Mitchelton-Scott general manager) is in Spain next week trying to finalise the sponsorship and other opportunities.
“So, I’ll have more to say next week but, in the meantime, we’re still negotiating for a couple of other sponsors as well for next year.”
Ryan's businesses have been the main supporters of the team since it's inception. When other sponsors came to the end of their contracts or only contributed a minority of the team's budget, Ryan-owned companies became title sponsors. The economic downturn has seen some of the industries in which Ryan invests - entertainment and tourism - impacted sharply, which prompted cost-cutting measures within the squad.
Ryan was clear on the point - which had been left open by the press release - of whether ownership of the squad would change, as well as the national identity of the team.
“To answer your question, I own the team," said Ryan. “It’s an Australian-registered team. Right.
“You just don’t change team licences… it’s a process if it was to happen."
Those statements prompted a public response from Emilio Rodríguez, the Manuela Fundación’s head of sport, who told Spanish state news agency EFE that the foundation had a different view on the content of the negotiations.
"We have been caught offside, but this will sort itself out," said Rodríguez. "We've come into this team to be owners, not just a sponsor."
"They'll know why they said that, but we agreed to form part of the GreenEdge company" – which owns Mitchelton-Scott – "from that day onwards."
"We agreed we were the owners, and that as from January 1, 2021, we would also own the licence once all the paperwork had been handled by the UCI. We came in to save the team, but with our own conditions."
With a clear disconnect between the two parties, it is a situation that will need to be clarified before the resumption of the racing calendar, with riders and staff currently on reduced pay due to the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.