There’s also been a remarkable shift in the statements coming out of Transport for London.
On December 10th, when news of the bank’s early exit as sponsor first broke, TfL put out a statement in the name of Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development, which said:
“Barclays has not pulled out of the Cycle Hire sponsorship deal. After the current sponsorship deal with Barclays ends – in two years time – the cycle sponsorship portfolio will fundamentally change.
“Cycle Hire will become part of a much wider and larger cycling sponsorship offer encompassing Cycle Hire and the major new commitments made in the Mayor’s Cycling Vision – new flagship segregated routes through the heart of London, new Quietway backstreet routes, along with cycle training and potentially other forms of active travel. The Cycle Hire scheme will be fully integrated with our plans for pay-as-you-go contactless card payments, making it a fully joined up part of the transport system.
“In recognition of the growing demand for cycling expenditure, TfL is to seek new commercial partners to add significant sponsorship income to the £913 million already devoted to cycling. There will be no reduction in public funds spent on the cycling programme, which have been entirely protected from the cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement.
“Barclays remains committed to the sponsorship agreement signed in 2010, but the bank and TfL have decided not to take up the option to extend it. Several months ago Barclays began the process of a strategic review of its sponsorship programmes and has now made a commercial decision not to continue the sponsorship.
“TfL thanks Barclays very much for its fantastic support of this scheme. Both are very much looking forward to celebrating the major milestone of the extension to the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme to south-west London this Friday.”
And here’s a further email I received from TfL on December 17th in response to some follow-up questions – other than a couple of personal niceties this is the complete text:
You had asked which clause was used to terminate the agreement with Barclays?
In the absence of a signed variation to the contract, the original termination date – in 2015 applied. Barclays had the option to extend, and discussions were underway, but they decided, by mutual agreement, not to exercise that option.
Re: your question on what was said around the deal – there was an agreement in principle, and discussions were ongoing. Barclays had an ‘option to extend’, but following their internal review of sponsorship and our new, wider post-Vision offer, they decided not to exercise that option.
The important thing is what we achieve next and with the new widened portfolio reflecting the Mayor’s cycling vision we are looking to add significant sponsorship to the £913 million being invested.
Re: Heads of Terms. That will be published – I’ll let you know as soon as I have more on that.
On Wednesday, when I finally received the Heads of Terms which revealed the expectation of a £10m contribution, TfL’s press office told me:
“The original Barclays contract was a five year deal worth up to £25m until 2015. In July 2011, Barclays and the Mayor agreed in principle to extend the contract until 2018 increasing the value to up to £50m.
“However, Barclays have recently conducted a review of their worldwide sponsorship agreements and have made a commercial decision not to exercise their option to extend the contract until 2018, which was worth up to a further £25m.”
and in answer to a direct request that they confirm “the total due to be received from Barclays by 2015,” the press office went on to say:
“Barclays remain sponsors until 2015, as per the terms of the original deal signed in 2010, worth up to £25m.”
All those statements are clear – there was no money beyond the original £25m which has already been reduced by £2.07m.
Yet by Thursday afternoon Graeme Craig issued the following statement to the BBC and ITV:
“The Heads of Terms document was agreed and signed by TfL and Barclays in 2011 and set out the initial proposal for the additional £25m extension of the Cycle Hire sponsorship, subject to the agreement of a formal contract.
“As announced in December 2013, Barclays conducted a review of their worldwide sponsorship agreements and made a commercial decision not to exercise their option to extend the contract until 2018.
“They do, however, remain the sponsor of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme until 2015 and we expect to receive a contribution from them for the Phase 3 extension.”
So after a day of bad press, there suddenly appeared the chance of more money. Money no-one at TfL mentioned in December or on the 19th of this month.
On Thursday I emailed Graeme, the TfL press office and its boss Vernon Everitt asking if someone could confirm the clear discrepancy in the two statements. None of them have yet responded.
Another contradiction of TfL’s initial position comes via a statement issued by Barclays to BBC London on Friday evening in which the bank says it’s “in discussions” with TfL to agree an amendment to the 2010 contract to make a “pro-rata” contribution towards the phase three extension.
If these discussions were taking place prior to Wednesday, why didn’t the TfL press office simply say so?
And if they’ve been going on for longer than the media’s coverage of this story, why weren’t they disclosed in December when news that the bank wasn’t contracted until 2018 – as had been repeatedly claimed – first broke?
As always with this story, each statement and development leaves us with new questions to be answered.