A chat with Bernie Ecclestone is always fun: irreverent at times, his oft-jaunty manner camouflages a razor-sharp brain that is three or even four moves ahead of the game at hand. This time the reason for the meeting is the question of football and a connection to premiums paid to Formula 1's 'big four' teams since 2013.
After three in-depth investigations the EU concluded that public support measures granted in Spain to seven professional football clubs gave them an unfair advantage over other clubs in breach of EU State aid rules. Accordingly the Commission directed that those funds be recovered from the clubs.
Although public monies were used, one particular comment in the verdict is particularly telling, namely that "The Commission's action ... keeps the playing field level for the majority of professional clubs who have to operate without subsidies. Such subsidies can enable bigger or smaller clubs to overcome their rivals".