By VeloNews Interactive
We received word on Thursday from John Deering, the spokesman for Britain’s Linda McCartney Foods pro cycling team, that the squad has folded after encountering serious financial problems. Deering denied reports that the team’s collapse was related to the alleged embezzlement of funds by a member of the team’s management.
Instead, Deering attributed the failure to a combination of factors including “a low level of support” from Linda McCartney Foods, a vegetarian food producer based in Great Britain and owned by former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney.
Despite its relatively small budget, the team had enjoyed some successes in the 2000 season, including a surprising stage win at the Giro d’Italia. The team also had a promising start this season with strong performances in Australia’s Tour Down Under.
As the 2000 season wound to a close, the squad began an aggressive recruitment effort in an attempt to build a roster with enough UCI points to allow the team to reach Division I status. As part of that effort, the team appeared to have secured a contract with former U.S. Postal lieutenant Kevin Livingston. That deal, however, fell apart and Livingston signed a deal with Jan Ullrich’s Deutsche Telekom squad.
Deering’s statement follows:
THE END OF LINDA McCARTNEYIt is with great regret that we are forced to announce the (dissolution) of the Linda McCartney Pro Cycling Team, a team in which we have always had great belief and whose member’s have always previously given us their full support.
This action has been caused by the decision not the support the team from one of this season’s sponsors and by the low level of support by the team’s main named sponsor, not in fact by any disappearance of funds as wrongly assumed (but) purely by expected funds that didn’t materialize. In fact the team management has been left with huge debts by supporting the team.
We have always believed in this team and have strived to make it and keep it a ‘clean’ and drug free team. We have struggled to keep this team together for so long now but due to ill health and the personal debt we have accrued we cannot continue promoting a sponsor that is not prepared to support the team with the level of investment it requires.
Also wrongly said was that Julian Clark’s whereabouts was unknown, in fact despite ill health he traveled to the UK today in the hope to discuss with the sponsor a solution.