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Silverstone calls on PM for clarification of Welsh circuit funding

NEWS STORY
24/03/2014

Silverstone Circuits Limited has written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for clarification of government support for a racing circuit being built in Wales.

The move follows reports that public money could be used to fund the Ebbw Vale Circuit of Wales project, possibly via the Welsh Assembly.

A statement issued by Silverstone Circuits Limited this afternoon reads:

"Silverstone is fully supportive of regeneration projects and the creation of new jobs, however, when Silverstone Circuit was recently looking for support to secure the future of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix and protect Motorsport Valley - a cluster of motor sport, automotive and high performance engineering businesses at the heart of the motor sport industry sector, comprising 4,300 companies, employing 41,000 people and generating annual sales of £9 billion - the application was denied on the basis that this would be classed as illegal State aid. In the absence of such aid, Silverstone had to sell off assets to ensure the Formula 1 British Grand Prix was retained in the UK.

Silverstone has been advised that an injection of funds by the Welsh and/or UK governments to the Circuit of Wales project could also amount to illegal State aid, as a transfer of State resources would give Circuit of Wales an economic and selective advantage over other circuits (and developments). There are currently a number of well established, privately funded circuits in the UK, including Wales, that feel that the British motor sport industry would be threatened by the addition of a government funded circuit.

To be clear, Silverstone has no objection to competition between UK circuits, but it has to be a level playing field.

Based on its unrivalled knowledge and experience of running an international motor racing venue for over 60 years, it is Silverstone's view that the Circuit of Wales project is unviable. In 2008, UK motor sport experienced a similar scenario, when a previous management team at Donington Park circuit underestimated the financial realities of hosting Formula 1. A proposed major upgrade failed to materialise due to unrealistic projections and a consequent lack of investment.

Silverstone reiterates that it is sympathetic to the economic situation in Ebbw Vale, but motor sport at circuit level is not particularly profitable and is often loss making. Many UK circuits are under-utilised and struggle for revenue. It is unrealistic to suggest Circuit of Wales will be the exception."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Tommy Tipper, 24/03/2014 20:20

"A34 relief : Government funded ?.
"

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