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Williams set for £26m sponsor windfall

NEWS STORY
06/01/2022

A California court of arbitration has awarded Williams £26m after deeming that sponsor Rokit reneged on its contract with the Grove outfit.

The title sponsorship deal with telecomms company Rokit, which has interests in ebikes, alcoholic beverages and computer games, to name but a few, began in 2019 and just a few month later it was announced that the original three-year deal had been extended for a further two years to 2023.

However, in May 2020, ahead of the delayed start to the season, the Rokit name suddenly disappeared from team press releases and it was subsequently revealed that the two parties had gone their separate ways.

It was later claimed that Williams had called a halt to the partnership as Rokit had not fulfilled its contractual obligations, namely it had missed a number of instalments of the agreed 'payment plan', said instalments ranging between £3.5m and £5m.

In a recent federal hearing in the US, arbitrator Klaus Reichert SC rejected Rokit's claim that it withheld its payments because Williams hadn't fulfilled its obligations under the deal after January 2020. Further, it was noted that Rokit was "unambiguously promising" payment to the team in full.

While litigation proceedings got underway in 2020, these were complicated by Williams announcement that it was essentially for sale, the Grove outfit subsequently being bought by US investment firm Dorilton Capital later that same year.

Williams called on the California court to enforce the award against Rokit which it had won from the London Court of International Arbitration.

The total amount was around $35.7m, and comprised £26.2m in missed payments in addition to a bonus payment of $1m.

Judge Reichert found that whilst Rokit was clearly happy with the deals with Williams it had failed to pay up. However, Rokit co-founder and chairman, Jonathan Kendrick insists that this is not the end of the matter.

"The Covid-induced global shutdown stopped sport in its tracks in 2020," he said. "At the time no one knew how long the shutdown would last and many sponsors, across a wide variety of sports, renegotiated their agreements as a result.

"After all, many involved in sports sponsorships understood sponsors were not getting what they're paying for and it was a surprise to us that Williams took the action they did.

"We have no issue paying when we get what we are paying for," he insisted. "We fully intend to pursue the matter but cannot comment further at this time."

When you consider that Dorilton paid around £125m for Williams, £26m is indeed a nice little windfall.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by trackrecords, 12/01/2022 11:03

"A 20% return will have raised more than a few wry smiles"

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 09/01/2022 4:02

"@Bill Hopgood - That is actually a good amount for Williams considering how much others pay to get on the cars of other teams. "

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3. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 08/01/2022 1:11

"What surprises me is the price of the sponsorship being so low, considering the scale of F1.
Then again, I guess that's for a team at the back of the grid.
I do recall Zak Brown stating a few years back that McLaren's cars were cheap for Partners as they were performing so poorly at the time.
I talked to someone from a software company that sponsored a team at the back of the grid about five years ago and they did that deliberately as they knew the car would be lapped and get coverage that way."

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4. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 07/01/2022 9:31

"Always amazed when sponsors are all over a car and little or no money has been paid."

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