A declaration of war?

16/05/2008
NEWS STORY

At first glance, a letter sent by Max Mosley to "all FIA Club Presidents" appears to be the Englishman's latest attempt to garner support ahead of the all-important extraordinary meeting of the FIA in Paris on June 3.

Indeed, as one reads the first few paragraphs (Pitpass has a copy of the letter in its possession) and its assurances of "unsolicited letters of support" one gets the distinct feeling that it might be just another rallying call.

However, it is as one continues reading that one becomes clear that this is not a final plea to be allowed to stay in office, this is a call for support not for Mosley but, according to him, the very future of Formula One.

In a week in which Radovan Novak, the general secretary of the Czech Automobile Association, has apologised for suggesting that (McLaren boss) Ron Dennis might have been behind the 'sting' which saw Mosley's private life exposed by a British tabloid, the FIA President, who has previously hinted at a grand scale conspiracy, suggests that there are other parties which have a far greater interest in his downfall and that of the FIA. Indeed, Mosley all but uses Dr Mike Lawrence's mantra... 'follow the money'.

Taking the bull by the horns, he raises an issue that has rarely been mentioned publicly in recent years, the one hundred year commercial deal between the FIA and the Formula One Commercial Rights Holder (CRH).

In 2001, this controversial deal saw Bernie Ecclestone's family holding company (SLEC) pay a mere $309m for a one hundred year extension to the (then) current deal which was due to run out in 2010. In 2005, CVC took over as the Commercial Rights Holder, but with Ecclestone still maintaining control.

"The CRH originally asked us to accept changes to the agreement in order to reduce the CRH's liability to tax," writes Mosley.

However, there's a sting in the tail, as he points out...

"These we can probably concede," he continues. "But the CRH has also now asked for control over the Formula One regulations and the right to sell the business to anyone - in effect to take over Formula One completely. I do not believe the FIA should agree to this.

"To do so would be to abandon core elements of the FIA's patrimony including, for example, our ability to protect the traditional Grands Prix. We would also be weaker financially but, even more importantly, we would put at risk the viability of the FIA as the regulatory authority of international motor sport and lose a valuable communication platform for the wider interests of the organisation.

"We could perhaps grant the CRH greater freedom to sell the business," he admits, "but only if, in return, the FIA takes control of all sporting aspects of a Formula One Grand Prix including, for example, the allocation of passes to the working areas. However, there is so far no sign of agreement on this."

Mosley then issue a warning regarding a new Concorde Agreement, claiming that the CRH sees a Concorde Agreement as another way to exercise control over the sport.

"The sport and the commercial interests should be kept separate," he writes. "The teams and the CRH should be consulted and listened to at all stages but it must be the FIA, not the CRH or the teams, which decides the regulations. My refusal to concede on this has led to a difficult situation and compounds the problem with the CRH over the 100 year agreement."

In pointing out the CRH's demand for more power, not to mention the monetary value of the sport, Mosley takes this saga into new territory. The accusing finger isn't being pointed at Dennis, it is clearly aimed much higher up the F1 food-chain.

"There has been a struggle for control of Formula 1 that goes back to the original Concorde Agreement in 1981," he writes. "More recently it involved the major car manufacturers threatening to launch a break-away series.

"During my period as FIA President the economics of Formula One have changed beyond all recognition. We are now dealing with a sport involving billions of dollars and interests that would like nothing better than to remove the FIA from the Championship entirely. I have been determined to fight for the rights and role of the FIA in Formula One and it is possibly for this reason that I have been subject to a gross breach of privacy with the aim of undermining my Presidency."

Mosley concludes by saying that it was always his intention to stand down in 2009, admitting that (aged 68) he wants to work "less hard" and be free to devote more time to safety and environmental questions. He wants the handover to the next FIA President to be a "smooth transition" and not a knee-jerk move.

He makes it clear that he will only resign if a majority of the FIA membership wishes him to do so. Whereas, if it votes to retain him until October 2009 he will leave almost all of the public representation to two Deputy Presidents. This, he argues, would allow him time to "progress current negotiations to the point where proposals safeguarding the fundamental interests of the FIA can be submitted to the WMSC and the General Assembly.

"It will also give me time," he continues, "to pursue the legal proceedings I have started against those who have caused so much unnecessary trouble and embarrassment.

Depending on one's point of view, some might see this as a 'help me keep my job' letter, while others may well see it as a declaration of war.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 16/05/2008
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