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Ecclestone calls on government to come to the aid of Silverstone

NEWS STORY
01/06/2007

As Tony Blair continues his grand farewell tour, at the nation's expense naturally, the man who gave the first indication of the corruption and sleaze that would become the hallmark of the British Prime minister's reign has raised his head above the political parapet yet again.

Bernie Ecclestone is calling on the government to bail out the British Grand Prix by giving financial aid to Silverstone owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).

At present the BRDC has a contract until 2009, but after that it is entirely possible that Britain could lose its round of the World Championship. Ecclestone has demanded major upgrades to the Northamptonshire track, but despite talk of 'master plans' and such the BRDC is unable, and possibly unwilling, to meet his demands.

While foreign governments fund shiny new facilities, the BRDC has to meet the ever rising financial demands of FOM whilst also attempting to put something aside for the redevelopments. Ecclestone claims that government funding is probably the only answer.

"The Government could and should do something to help ensure the BRDC does not lose the F1 event," the Englishman told The Daily Express. "We are supposed to be the home of motorsport and yet all the other countries around the world have managed to build circuits to be proud of when you see them on television. Britain has not and it is not my fault.

"The Government is bringing the Olympics here because they say the Games will help generate a vast amount of money ultimately for the country. Perhaps they could loan some of that to Silverstone to be repaid when the new circuit is making a lot of money.

"Frankly, I am fed up talking about Silverstone," he admitted. "When I do a deal with other countries, we sign and it gets built. Silverstone knew this was a five-year deal and I have never pulled the wool over anyone's eyes. They know what is wanted, but they don't have a lot of time left. I keep hearing about phase this and phase that, but I don't see anything built there yet.

"I hope they get their act together," he added. "If someone comes up with the agreement we want there will be a British Grand Prix after 2009. I don’t care who comes up with that, but if we cannot strike a deal there are a lot of other countries desperate to have a race."

With regards the Olympics, yes the government is bringing them to London, and a vast amount of money will be generated. How much of that money finds its way into the pockets of those who truly need it, and how much goes to the fat cats remains to be seen. We certainly won't hold out breath.

The Olympics is being paid for not only by London taxpayers, but by money diverted from many other vital projects, including, ironically, projects aimed at assisting up and coming sportsmen and women.

Ecclestone has been bullying the BRDC for as long as anyone can remember, and we are all as heartily fed up with the whole business as he is.

No doubt Ecclestone and the BRDC could work out a mutually acceptable deal, but it would be foolish to rely on the government for help.

The government is still smarting from its last encounter with Formula One, and Mr Blair's replacement, Gordon Brown, is unlikely to make the same mistake as his predecessor.

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