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Ben Sulayem calls for caution over "inflated" F1 bid

NEWS STORY
26/01/2023

In yet another strange move, FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem has called for caution following claims of a $20bn bid for F1.

At a time there are already clear indications of a 'rift' between the owners of F1 and the sport's governing body, the FIA president has once again taken to social media to air his views.

"As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1," he tweeted this afternoon.

"Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan - not just a lot of money," he added.

"It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans."

His comment follow a report from Bloomberg last week, which was subsequently picked up on by some sections of the media, that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had made a $20bn bid for the sport which was subsequently rejected.

As Pitpass has previously reported, according to impeccable sources, while interest may well have been shown in terms of a potential bid, this did not come from those holding the purse strings of the fund, but from much lower down the order.

Nonetheless, it is odd that Ben Sulayem would speak out publically, a move which appears to question the value of the sport which was bought by Liberty Media for $4.4bn just six years ago.

All that aside, while one appreciates his fear in terms of how such a substantial bid might affect race promoters - and thereby fans - his call for common sense in terms of "inflation" comes at a time the sport is seeking to increase the 'anti-dilution' payment from $200m to $600m.

In 2001, after the EC expressed concern at the deals between Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, (then) president Max Mosley suggested the sport's governing body sell Ecclestone's company a 100-year contract for the F1 in order to avoid further short-term deals. Incredibly, the EC agreed. Ecclestone's company was the only bidder and got the rights for just 300 million, a value which is now less than one year of F1's profit.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by elsiebc, 25/01/2023 18:04

"Beings that the FIA is the sport's sanctioning body I believe they would have a lot of say in who the sport's promoters are. The rights aren't worth very much if no one sanctions the sport. Championships come and go. I guess they can take the teams and go elsewhere but how much is that going to be worth?"

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2. Posted by kenji, 25/01/2023 0:19

"This issue seems to be growing by the day and Liberty's latest assertion of their rights rather proves the point. According to the latest detail it would appear that the FIA are in fact limited in what they can do and say. That suggests that we are going to see more maneouvring by both parties in order to assume direction of the sport/business in the future. Liberty/Netflix have created a massive asset now and they will be keen to ensure that there are no encumbrances on what they can achieve. Interesting times are ahead of us and it will be fascinating to see the FIA/Bin Sulayem response. I'm sure that the Liberty team will be evaluating just where in the scheme of things there are any allegiances between the FIA and certain Saudi interests given the rumoured offer made late last year. We are talking massive amounts of money here and the players are formidable..."

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3. Posted by didaho, 24/01/2023 1:39 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 24/01/2023 2:29)

"Where F1 differs vastly from a golf start-up championship is that the FIA needs to approve any change of lessee and may veto any potential buyer who is not considered “a fit and proper owner”, bringing into play a third party beyond buyer/seller: the FIA, who as owners of the sport hold a veto right over transactions."

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4. Posted by KKK, 23/01/2023 20:19

"I'm sorry, this may sound very un-pc but the FIA has no say as to who owns the rights to F1. As much as I despise shat Media Liberty has done to F1, the FIA should butt-out"

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