Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned the teams that were they to be party to any takeover of the sport it would be the equivalent of committing ‘suicide’.
The 80-year-old Briton - who reconstructed F1 into the modern global media-sport that it has become - and many Fomrula One observers were shaking their heads at the prospect of seeing the sport sold to media tycoon Australian Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
Less than 24 hours after the leading teams in the paddock had told a media briefing that they, through their official body - the Formula One Teams Association ( FOTA) - were keen to take a stake in any new ownership following a takeover, Ecclestone warned them such a move, notably to pay-per-view television, would “be suicide.”
“Murdoch hasn’t got anything really big to drive their TV audiences and Formula 1 would be good for that,” he explained.
“They have been trying to buy the TV rights from us for a long time, but we won’t because they are not free-to-air television broadcasters. They are a subscription service. Times of India
The rumor mill has hit top gear with reports that Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari are to meet with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Ferrari investors EXOR next week. F1’s major shareholders, CVC, insisted they did not want to sell when the bid was made last week, and Ecclestone feels teams should be grateful they’ve made that stance.
“I hope these people come to their senses. The teams should be happy to have somebody like CVC not selling to the wrong people,” said Ecclestone, who is also chief executive of CVC. 7DAYS
However, Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone has said other groups have made approaches apart from prospective bidders News Corp and EXOR.
Ecclestone confirmed he had discussed the News Corp and Exor approach with Formula One owner CVC Capital Partners, but not with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Ecclestone added that CVC doesn’t want to sell unless there is a “bloody enormous” offer. ESPN STAR Sports
But while buyout talks may not go any further, the F1 teams, Ecclestone (on behalf of CVC) and the FIA will have to come to an agreement over a new Concorde Agreement in 2012. All three parties are interested in getting a better deal from the document that binds the commercial aspects of F1 together, but the teams have been the most vocal and made several demands over the weekend.
Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) chairman Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday: “We want to see investment. Whether that is with existing partners or future partners.” ESPN F1
“There have been enough times people have wanted to do a breakaway and they haven’t succeeded up until now,” the 80-year-old told reporters at the Turkish Grand Prix when asked whether he was worried about the prospect of that re-emerging.
“We’ve had five or six ‘Concorde Agreements’ and there are always these sort of discussions going on beforehand. It’s normal foreplay before these things happen.”
The ‘Concorde Agreement’ between the commercial rights holders CVC, the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and teams expires at the end of next year. It is a lengthy and confidential legal document that sets out the commercial basis of the sport and division of revenues.
After a largely quiet 2010 where the racing was the main focus of attention, the paddock has again become a hotbed of intrigue with speculation about the future of the sport and what the main players are doing behind the scenes.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Italian financial holding EXOR, which controls Ferrari through FIAT, have teamed up to explore the “possibility of creating a consortium” that could run the sport.
They plan to talk to potential minority partners and the main operators. Shareholders, who would include investment funds from Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, in the big four teams are expected to meet them next week. Times of India.