Intermarché-Circus-Wanty have been reprimanded by the UCI over late wage payments to riders and staff during the summer.
The team was one to two weeks late in paying wages for the months of July, August, and September, CEO Jean-François Bourlart confirmed in a conversation with Het Laatste Nieuws.
Bourlart said that the problem arose due to sponsors of the Belgian WorldTour team being late in their quarterly payments, but he insisted that all wages were paid in full after the delay.
“A number of sponsors are delayed with their quarterly payments, which can happen, and as a result, we were also a bit late,” Bourlart said. “But this is just a ‘cash hole’, a deficit in the treasury – it has nothing to do with our budget or any problem for the future.
“We had a cash flow problem for a while, and therefore it’s a problem of punctuality, nothing more.
“10 days [delay]? It could be. There were some late payments, but all amounts were paid correctly. It’s a serious matter when people are not paid.”
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty enjoyed a hugely successful season in 2022, winning 24 races, with Biniam Girmay winning Gent-Wevelgem but success has been more modest so far in 2023.
Het Laatste Nieuws reported that members of staff at the team took it upon themselves to contact the UCI over the late payments, resulting in the reprimand from cycling’s governing body.
The Belgian paper also reports that around a dozen members of the team – backroom staff including soigneurs, mechanics, coaches, doctors, and physios – are choosing to leave for other teams.
Bourlart, however, defended Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, saying that the staff turnover is average among WorldTour teams.
“Call the other teams and ask how many staff are leaving. It will be the same,” he said.
Bourlart denied that Belgium’s new restrictions on gambling sponsorships caused the delay in payments. Belgian betting/casino company Circus is a major sponsor, though their involvement in sponsorship will be forcibly pared down as a result of new laws.
From July 1, 2023, restrictions have prevented gambling companies from appearing in the name of professional sports teams and also from advertising on TV and radio. Logos of such companies featured on sports team jerseys will be restricted in size from 2025, and from 2028 a total ban on gambling advertising will come into force.
“The problem is the new law on gambling advertising that has been in force since July 1,” Bourlart said. “Circus disappears as a name…