BRDC offered finance for Silverstone upgrade

Far from announcing a solution yesterday at its London press conference [Jul 23], the BRDC found itself embroiled in further confusion over the future of Silverstone as an F1 venue. Simultaneously FOM issued a statement revealing that the track owner had been offered a financial solution to upgrade the venue, but had baulked at the deal because it involved losing rental revenue from British GP promoter Interpublic

BRDC offered finance for Silverstone upgrade

The FOM statement revealed that the proposal had been put forward during Bernie Ecclestone's meeting on Monday with the BRDC, the Department of Trade & Industry and the East Midlands Development Agency, to discuss the options available for financing major redevelopment at the venue. FOM and Interpublic (which owns British GP rights holder Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd) had offered to put up the money. The deal would have secured Silverstone's tenure of the event until at least 2015, said FOM.

In return, the BRDC is understood to have been asked to waive two years' rent due under its deal with Interpublic, which leases the track for a reported £5m a year. The FOM statement concluded: "Unfortunately, no progress was made with the BRDC representatives."

BRDC president Sir Jackie Stewart, who had called the press conference to report on progress towards government funding for the Silverstone project, defended the BRDC's position. Stewart said he was "baffled" by the content of the FOM statement, and added that, during the discussions, the BRDC had offered to reduce BHCL's rent. "We don't want to be blamed for losing the British GP," said Stewart. "We have to get the partners around the table to make it work. If we have to reduce the rent, then that is what we have to do. But that can only be one part of it.

"The British GP is not owned by the BRDC. We don't own the rights, we are not the promoter, the organiser or the sanctioning body. But we all want to retain the British GP.

"We have to find the monies but the financial structure of the F1 World Championship means it is difficult to allow any more back into the sport. When the British GP was under the auspices of the BRDC, there was a small amount of profit. But that was a different fee structure. The fees are so high now that it's almost impossible for the rights holder to make money. It's why governments are now owning race tracks."

FIA president Max Mosley said of the situation: "My understanding is that the BRDC refused a specific proposal. Jackie [Stewart] and Martin [Brundle, BRDC chairman] kept questioning how much money FOM received, but there's a certain price for a grand prix and we can't have every other grand prix running to one price and Britain running for less.

"What has been put to the BRDC is that they take a great deal less rent and do not monopolise facilities at the circuit. [The annual rent of] £5m is a lot for a disused airfield that has been given to them anyway.

"In return for that, Bernie and Interpublic would finance the building and all the work. So is there anything holding the thing up? Everyone seems to be agreeing. This is a blinding deal from their [the BRDC's] point of view. It's open and shut. No rational person could argue against it."

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