Bringing the joy of cycling to breakfast at Fieldfisher

Michael Taylor, Cllr Mandie Shilton Godwin, Jon Dutton, Sam Jardine

Jon Dutton, chief executive of British Cycling, was the special guest at our latest business breakfast event at the offices of Fieldfisher in Manchester, in conversation with and Sam Jardine, partner at Fieldfisher and a keen cyclist himself.

Since he took his new role in April 2023, after leading the successful Rugby League World Cup, every day has brought Jon new challenges he explained, but something that his career experience on Golf’s PGA European Tour, for UEFA and as director of Projects and People for the Rugby Football League prepared him for.

British Cycling’s Purpose and Storyboard is built up from the message to “Bring the joy of cycling to everyone”. He explained that in practical terms it’s all about getting more people on a bike and joining the 26 million people in this country who have cycled over the course of the last year.

As an elite sport governing body British Cycling has been associated with incredible success over the years – Olympic medals, Tour de France winners, and Jon spoke about the goals for the 2024 Paris Olympics and the ambitions for the Tour of Britain this year, hopefully.

He also reflected on his own approach to the challenges of running a large and successful sports organisation in tough times, balancing the financial needs of the organistion with the ethical questions around sponsorship from Shell and HSBC and fronting up the sport’s transgender policy.

With Ineos and Sir Dave Brailsford (former performance director of British Cycling) moving in to run things at Manchester United, he also shared learnings that the high performance culture of cycling can bring, and what the sport can learn from other sports – such as from his former berth in Rugby League. The biggest one, he said, was building a culture of respect.

But beyond elite sport it was clear that Jon is also passionate about social impact, commercial growth and enabling sports to modernise through innovation. 

British Cycling’s £27m new Velodrome and BMX centre are also important elements of the ever evolving East Manchester story – Co-Op Live, an extended Etihad stadium, the sports campus of the City Football Group. Something he hopes and feels that British Cycling has played a vital role on that journey.

A series of excellent audience questions pivoted around bringing a Dutch and Danish cycling culture to the UK, particularly Manchester, which cycling champion Cllr Mandie Shilton Godwin was on hand to share from her position at Manchester City Council, and he spoke about the joint ambitions of Manchester as the European Capital of Cycling.

As John Jones from Beever and Struthers commented afterwards: “I love these events because you learn so much from hearing from people who aren’t directly in your world.”