The FIA is in a 'critical' situation and could suffer serious damage to its image and credibility unless Max Mosley resigns, a number of leading automobile clubs have warned the FIA president in a last ditch plea ahead of next week's confidence vote.
Mosley has been told there is 'no way back' for the governing body to avoid being hurt if he does not agree to stand down and put in place an orderly transition process for a new president.
With tensions inside the governing body clearly rising ahead of next week's Extraordinary General Meeting in Paris to vote on his future, 24 clubs representing 22 different nations have written a joint letter expressing their belief that the FIA would be best served if Mosley stood aside.
"We strongly believe that the only respectable way forward for the FIA, and for yourself, is to have an orderly transition, with an immediate agreement and your commitment to step down," said the letter, a copy of which has been seen by autosport.com.
"The FIA is in a critical situation. Its image, reputation and credibility are being severely eroded. Every additional day that this situation persists, the damage increases. There is no way back."
The letter, sent on Wednesday, was signed by representatives from America (AAA and AATA), Singapore (AAS), Germany (ADAC), Finland, (AL), Canada (CAA), Brazil (CCB), Denmark (FDM), France (FFA), India (FIAA), Japan (JAF), the Netherlands (KNAC), Sweden (M), Hungary (MAK), Israel (MEMSI), Austria (OEMTC), Spain (RACC and RACE), Belgium (TCB) and Switzerland (TCS).
The clubs also express their disappointment that Mosley refused the offer of a compromise deal to step down in November in exchange for a guaranteed victory in next week's vote.
"We deeply regret your refusal to accept the proposal by the members of the World Council for Automobile Mobility and Tourism to reach an agreement for you to step down at the General Assembly in the coming month of November," said the letter.
"This is a constructive effort to facilitate an orderly transition within the FIA and to find a solution to the present crisis.
"Instead, your intention to remain until the end of your term in 2009, in spite of the severe damage being inflicted to the FIA, could imply putting personal considerations before the interests of the FIA and its member clubs."
The clubs also reject Mosley's fears, expressed in a recent letter he wrote to FIA clubs, suggesting there was a risk of division amongst them. They also state they do not accept Mosley's warning that the FIA could lose control of F1 if he is forced out of office after next week's vote.
Instead, they claim Bernie Ecclestone's letter last week that suggested he wanted to continue working with the FIA gave a better indication of the state of play between the governing body and F1's commercial rights holders.
"We take note of the letter sent by B. Ecclestone to all member clubs, stating his support for the FIA as the sole body governing international motor sport and his willingness to continue working with the FIA, irrespective of the result of the Extraordinary General Assembly on June 3rd.
"We believe that his explanations put in due perspective the state of the relationship between the FIA and the Formula One world, taking away relevance to many of the arguments you make in your letter to justify your continuity. We take note of his point on the importance that the FIA be led by a credible and respected President."
Although the letter sheds light on the level of dissatisfaction with the FIA, it is believed there are still enough clubs willing to back Mosley at next week's vote to make it likely that he will receive the support of the majority to continue in his role until his term ends in October 2009.
However, the ultimate aim of this latest letter may not be to convince Mosley to step down but to make clear to the wavering voters that there is enough feeling against Mosley for him to lose the vote.
With the 24 clubs that signed the letter representing 86 percent of the total FIA members (though not the votes in the General Assembly), those contemplating voting against Mosley may feel safe in doing so without fear of being a lone voice of dissent.