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Update from British Cycling on the impact of Covid-19

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British Cycling can today announce it has submitted its action plan to Government for a safe return of cycle sport events in England, which it hopes will enable a phased return to racing from August 1st after a four-month absence. The national governing body has also provided an update on its plans to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.

The proposed action plan would pave the way for a return of all disciplines apart from road racing, and provides event organisers with the framework and tools they need to deliver events in a Covid-secure manner. The return of road racing will be reviewed again in August along with sportives and other non-competitive events which use the public highway, however it is not yet possible to resume them safely under the current guidelines.

National governing bodies were asked to submit their action plans after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published their own frameworks for a return of outdoor events and team sports in England on Friday 10 July. The plan submitted by British Cycling – which will be shared publicly next week – provides clarity for event organisers on matters including: running events safely in a Covid-secure manner; hygiene protocols; compliance with test and trace procedures; and a range of discipline-specific mitigations. While each event will require different adaptations depending on its own circumstances, the plan also suggests suitable alternatives to existing race formats.

Approval of the plan would move British Cycling to Stage Four of its six-stage plan to resume all cycling activities, as first set out in ‘The Way Forward: Planning a safe return to sanctioned cycling activity and facility use’ in June, and it will be continually updated to reflect future changes in Government guidance. There is currently no set date for progression to Stage Five, which will permit a return of all competitive and non-competitive event formats and wider indoor facility access, though a further positive update on our guidance for coaches is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

British Cycling’s Cycling Delivery Director, Dani Every, said:

“We believe that our action plan is a comprehensive and sensible next step in what will be a phased return of competitive grassroots cycling, and one which equips our event organisers with the tools and confidence to deliver their activities in a Covid-secure manner. I’d like to thank staff within the Department, colleagues at Sport England and the members of our discipline commissions for their guidance and support as we have navigated this process.

“For many the return of events may seem like a daunting prospect, and we fully understand that some of our organisers, officials and volunteers will not yet be ready to resume their roles. Our team is continuing to work with all those involved in the delivery of our sport to offer support and guidance, and we will continue to adapt our framework to reflect emerging best practice over the coming weeks and months. We will also be hosting a series of regional and discipline-specific webinars to gain a greater understanding of common concerns as well as providing organisers with an opportunity to share plans and ideas.

“After a prolonged absence we are glad to be able to provide the opportunity for so many young people and adults to enjoy competitive activity once again, and we look forward to welcoming faces new and old to the start line next month.

“We are keenly aware that many within our sport will have been hoping for a return to road racing, and I want to take the opportunity to reassure them that we are working hard to lay the groundwork for its return, but this can only happen once the relevant Government and public health guidelines permit. This clearly presents a much greater challenge than more contained, facility-based events, however we will be entering discussions with sportive organisers on the adaptations required to safely deliver their events, in the hope that we can restart some activities soon.”

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Ranking points and categories

Following internal and external consultation, British Cycling can also confirm today that events across all disciplines will be designated as non-ranking for the remainder of 2020, or until further notice.

Given that riders will not be able to claim ranking points, no rider will be moved down a licence category at the end of the year, while those who collected sufficient points to move up a category prior to the suspension of racing in March will be able to retain that higher category. It is hoped that the opportunity to race new formats across a variety of disciplines will encourage many new riders to come and get involved.

Mitigating the financial impact of Covid-19

British Cycling can also today announce that it is beginning a collective consultation process with staff with a view to making around 38 roles redundant. Seven of those are currently vacant, which means that in total 31 staff could be affected. We will also be consulting individually with all staff placed at risk of redundancy.

British Cycling Chief Executive, Julie Harrington, said:

“This is a decision we would rather not have to make but one we are taking in a measured way and with due care for the well-being of our employees.

“Since March we have furloughed over two-thirds of the workforce under the government’s job retention scheme – a huge team effort which means that many jobs which would have been lost, have been saved.

“Had we not taken those steps then, our situation now would be more severe. However, with income still limited and the likelihood that our sport will continue to be affected into the winter months, we have no other option than to cut costs.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, all revenues we make are invested in cycling and these steps are necessary so that we can continue to deliver on our three strategic priorities – a healthy domestic sport, growing participation, and supporting our most talented riders to achieve their best.

“We will publish further updates as this work continues but our key consideration will be to ensure our staff get the information they need first. I know this means a worrying time for people who give their best every day for our sport and we are putting in place measures to support them, including access to our employee assistance programme, which offers counselling and financial advice.

“In the meantime, I would like to thank British Cycling’s members and licence holders for their backing, particularly as I know that many of them are also facing an uncertain future. In addition, we are grateful to our colleagues at Sport England, UK Sport and our lead partner HSBC UK for their continued support.”

Published: 17 July 2020
Images: SWPix