Negotiations for Qatar to invest in the World Rally Championship have broken down, leaving Eurosport set to step in and take over the television and promotion of the series.
While no official announcements have been made, AUTOSPORT has seen internal correspondence from WRC promoter North One Sport confirming that the potential deal with Qatar is off. The Qatar deal, which was reckoned to have been worth millions of pounds over the coming years, was North One Sport's only hope of continuing as the promoter. The firm's parent company, Convers Sports Initiatives, went into administration at the end of last year.
The loss of the potential investor will cost around 40 full-time jobs and a further 20 on-event freelance staff in the world championship. North One Sport is expected to be closed as of Monday.
It is rumoured the FIA terminated North One Sport's contract as WRC rights-holder last night.
A North One source said: "It's unbelievable. We have come so close to landing this. The deal was on the table and, believe me, it would have been by far and away the best thing for the sport and for the World Rally Championship.
"What is desperately disappointing, after working so hard for 11 years on the WRC, is that nobody from the FIA picked up a phone and talked to us - and goodness knows we tried to call them. We were treated with complete contempt. I find it extraordinary given what the new investor could have done. It's a very sad day."
The FIA was unavailable for comment when contacted by AUTOSPORT last night.