“A Critical Analysis of Governance and Stakeholder Power in Professional Cycling”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday  31st January at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“A Critical Analysis of Governance and Stakeholder Power in Professional Cycling”

Given by: Stephen Morrow and Catharine Idle, Department of Sports Studies, University of Stirling


In 2005 the UCI (International Cycling Union) Pro Tour was established. Based on models common in American professional sports, it created a super league of cycling, a hierarchy of 20 licensed teams, obligated to contest 27 ProTour races per season. Its creation has been controversial with widespread evidence of stakeholder conflict focusing on issues of control, governance and finance. The central conflict is between the UCI and the organisers of the three main professional cycling tours – the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España – events which are much more than cycle races (Palmer, 2000). The presence within cycling of stakeholders like the Amaury Sports Organization (organisers of the Tour de France) – a powerful organisation which enjoys wealth, celebrity, status and global influence on a scale that few other sporting bodies enjoy – is one feature which differentiates the control and governance of professional cycling from other sports. Until now obtaining a place in the Tour de France or one of the other major tours was fundamental to the sporting and financial viability of cycling teams, but arguably the Pro Tour alters the balance of power between tour organisers and the UCI. Drawing on a series of semi- structured interviews with key stakeholders, complemented by a review of UCI minutes and records, this research evaluates changes in the structure and operation of professional cycling, elucidating views on contested dimensions of the changes focusing in particular on implications for its governance and financing.


Stephen Morrow is Head of the Department of Sports Studies at the University of Stirling. Stephen is a Chartered Accountant (ICAS) and trained with the international firm of accountants, Ernst & Young. Stephen’s research concentrates on financial aspects in sport, particularly in the football industry. He is the author of The People’s Game? Football, finance and society (Palgrave, 2003).

Catharine Idle is a Research Assistant in the Department of Sports Studies at the University of Stirling. Her first degree is in French and Marketing and she is fluent in both French and Italian. She has recently completed her MSc in Sports Studies at the University. Prior to this she was Contracts Manager for European camping tour operator Canvas Holidays Ltd.


  • Dauncey, H. and Hare, G. (eds) (2003). The Tour de France, 1903-2003: a century of sporting structures, meanings and values. (Frank Cass: London).
  • Forster, J. and Ll. Pope, N.K. (2004), The political economy of global sporting organisations  (Routledge).
  • Palmer, C. (2000). ‘Spin doctors and sportsbrokers: Researching elites in Contemporary Sport – A research note on the Tour de France’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 35(3), 364-377.
  • Slack, T. and Parent, M. 92005), Understanding sport organisations: The application of organisation theory. 2nd edition. (Human Kinetics)

For further details about this paper contact:

Stephen Morrow

Department of Sports Studies
University of Stirling
Stirling (Scotland) FK9 4LA

Tel: 00 44 1786 466495

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763 or Email:

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