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Williams: RBS publicity won't hurt team

WilliamsWilliams chiefs Frank Williams and Adam Parr do not expect their team to suffer any fallout from the spate of negative publicity surrounding sponsor the Royal Bank of Scotland.

RBS has been on the receiving end of widespread criticisms by the British media in the wake of their actions that forced government bail-out following its biggest loss in British history.

Having yesterday announced it made a 24.1 billion pound loss last year, the bank is at the centre of further controversy thanks to a huge pension being served to ex-chief Fred Goodwin.

Despite the bad press RBS is receiving, and the fact that their sponsorship of Williams was criticised on the front page of a major British paper earlier this month, Frank Williams believes the team and their other sponsors will not be affected.

"Most people we deal with run very large, respectable, businesses, on a vast scale compared to this business, for instance," said Williams.

"They have a very broad view about business matters and they're all mature enough to think it is an RBS problem and certainly not specific to Williams as long as we do manage to replace them in due course, which is two more years still.

Parr added: "The other thing is that most of our sponsors and most of their audience is not in the UK. In the UK RBS is receiving quite a lot of intense media interest and speculation, but I suspect that in any other country in the world, it would not have nearly the same resonance.

"In some countries it probably still carries a very strong image. None of our partners has raised a question about it."

"Getting people to come into Formula One as a sponsor is very challenging," Parr said during a media lunch on Thursday. "It's always been very challenging because it's not the amount of money, but that the image of the sport and the nature of what we do is that it's
always a board-level decision.

"You've got to have the chief executive, the CFO, the head of marketing and probably the majority of the board with you to do it.

"It wouldn't matter if it was 5, it would be the same problem, because Formula One is such an intense kind of image. I don't think it's more difficult today than it was 12 months ago or 24 months ago, in my job of bringing in revenues for this team.

"We've got as many good conversations going on today as we had 12 months ago or two years ago, and those people are just as engaged and I think just as likely to come on board. But it's difficult."

Parr, whose team have posted a loss in the last two years, admitted they have been spending beyond their means, but he is adamant all debt will be paid now that F1 has agreed to radical cost-cutting measures.

"Our accounts have been examined pretty publicly, but if you look at the last two or three years you'll see that we were spending beyond our means," he said. "It was the right thing to do, because if we hadn't done that, we just wouldn't have been able to stay in the game.

"Now, when I look at the budget for this year and next year, that's not the situation. We are operating within our means and as I said yesterday, we will be paying off debt this year and paying off debt next year.

"I think that's a very much more satisfactory position to be in, but it's indicative of the fact that Formula One is changing, because if nothing had changed in the outside world and our competitors had had no pressure on them, then we would have had to carry on in an unsustainable way."

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