Footie clubs line up for P1GP kick-off

Organisers of the new Premier1 Grand Prix series, a one-make Formula 1-style championship that will involve many of Europe's top football teams, say that 25 clubs have already signed letters of intent wanting to back the 24 cars that will take part in 2002's inaugural championship

Footie clubs line up for P1GP kick-off

Six clubs are poised to initially commit to the venture, with English club Leeds United among them. Marseille (France), Valencia (Spain), Inter Milan (Italy), Feyenoord (Holland) and Benfica (Portugal) are the others. Manchester United is said to be keeping a watching brief on the situation, but is not among the clubs signing a letter of intent.

The series, for identical Judd V10-powered Dallara chassis is the brainchild of Colin Sullivan, the millionaire businessman who attempted to buy Silverstone two years ago. Premier1 Grand Prix is being pitched as providing near-Formula 1 performance levels, but with an emphasis on fan access.

The inaugural championship is scheduled to kick off on July 6, 2002 - the weekend after the World Cup final - with a 10-date schedule that will expand to 15 events in 2003 and 18 in 2004. At each event, two 60-minute races will be separated by a 30-minute break and P1GP is currently looking to secure terrestrial TV deals, with the UK's BBC targeted as a potential outlet.

"When we first announced P1GP, people had a tendency to rubbish the idea, which we quite understood because no one had tried anything like it before," said operations director Robin Webb. "But the more people began to realise we were serious, the more they started getting in touch with us.

"The initial level of cynicism in the Formula 1 paddock never deterred any of the clubs. Now, we are in the fortunate position of having more wanting to take part than we can accommodate. We only have 24 places, but 25 clubs have signed letters of intent and others are desperate to be involved."

Read more about P1GP's plans in this week's Autosport magazine, on sale Thursday.

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