Taxpayers to meet Australian GP title sponsor shortfall?

29/12/2009
NEWS STORY

With the Australian Grand Prix yet to find a title sponsor, there are fears that hard-pressed taxpayers will be required to meet the shortfall.

After three years as title sponsor of the Melbourne event, in early 2009 Dutch banking group ING announced that it was ending its involvement in F1, subsequently terminating its sponsorship of the Renault team prematurely in the midst of the Crashgate scandal.

With just three months to go before the cars line up on the grid in Melbourne - the second event on the 2010 schedule - organizers have yet to find a replacement for ING as title sponsor, leading to fears that the already hard-hit taxpayer will have to meet the shortfall.

The 2009 event continued the loss making trend of recent years with taxpayers having to meet the $42m AUD (23.5m) bill, even though, as pointed out by Australia's News.com, "GP executives pocketed $150,000 in bonuses".

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Drew Ward insists that the event can survive without a title sponsor, while refuting claims that naming rights could be sold to the first bidder.

"There won't be any impact on the overall cost of the event in terms of overall sponsorship revenue," he told News.com. "If you look back at this year's event, general sponsorship interest was increased on previous years."

However, Victoria opposition leader Ted Baillieu blames Premier John Brumby for leaving the race without a major sponsor.

"The incompetent Brumby Government must tell Victorian taxpayers what they are getting for their money and how much they are paying," he said.

A spokeswoman for the State Government backed Drew, insisting that all is well. "It is not unusual for an event as big as this not to have a title sponsor in place this far out," she said. "The 2010 Australian Formula One Grand Prix will again be a blockbuster event for Melbourne."

"Blockbuster" or not, it's well worth recalling Glen 'Crompo' Crompton's comments following this year event.

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Published: 29/12/2009
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