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CVC speaks out as F1 ponders a catastrophe

NEWS STORY
14/04/2008

With more and more F1 luminaries speaking out about under-fire FIA president Max Mosley - it is becoming ever-tougher to make no comment at all. After maintaining silence for two weeks, F1's ultimate owner CVC has finally spoken, as a report in the Express newspaper reveals.

Speaking to Pitpass contributors Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid, CVC's UK managing director Nick Clarry says that "the FIA need to decide what the appropriate next steps are and it's not for us to comment." He adds that "we don't make comments about any of the assets we own normally. We leave the CEOs of the businesses to make their comments." Of course Bernie Ecclestone set that ball rolling by saying "it might be all a bit of a joke," which wasn't perhaps what the world wanted to hear.

Whilst the FIA is entirely separate to the commercial side of F1, CVC must be holding its breath over this scandal since the Express article claims, the worst-case scenario consequences could be catastrophic.

The scandal could weaken Ecclestone's negotiating position with companies looking to renew their involvement with F1 such as Sony which is in talks about producing a new F1 videogame. Since Mosley is so closely connected with F1 his renowned romps with a quintet of vice girls could tarnish the image of the sport. This in turn would make it tougher for companies to justify renewing their deals with F1, let alone paying more for them.

An even bigger problem could be on the horizon. Article 4 of the FIA Statutes states that "the FIA shall recognize in each country and for all branches of motoring only one Sporting Power which under all circumstances shall remain responsible to the FIA... and is entrusted with having the international regulations laid down by the International Sporting Code of the FIA enforced in its country."

In short, the national sporting associations are members of the FIA and enforce the FIA's regulations at events in their home countries. So, for example, the British Grand Prix, or to give it its full title, round nine of the FIA Formula One World Championship, is authorised by the UK's Motor Sports Association (MSA), which is an FIA member. However, if the MSA pulled out of the FIA it couldn't authorise the British GP since it would be no longer be entrusted by the FIA to enforce the sporting code. If a replacement FIA sporting association couldn't be found it could put the GP in jeopardy. This, theoretically, could apply to any races on the F1 calendar, if not all.

Of course no clubs have pulled out of the FIA yet but there is simmering anger that Mosley hasn't 'done the decent thing' and stepped down. "Triple A have threatened to do that (pull out of the FIA) if he doesn't resign but they are waiting to see what happens. The ADAC I think would do the same, I think the Dutch would do the same, I think the Israelis would do the same," says three-tim F1 champion Jackie Stewart.

In reality, it is highly unlikely that races will fall off the calendar for one reason, Bernie Ecclestone. As the sport's boss he is in charge of keeping the money coming in so that the F1 Group's owners CVC can pay back the $2.6 billion in debt that it took out to buy F1. If the races disappear then so do F1's TV rights revenues and hosting fees. Bernie wouldn't let it get to that but likewise, it doesn't look like Mosley will resign... yet.

The irresistible force may have to meet the immovable object and one will win.

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