Silverstone deal under threat from UK competition commission

THE lengthy efforts by the British Racing Drivers' Club to ensure that the British Grand Prix remains at Silverstone for the next 15 years could be jeopardized by news that its deal with Octagon, the leisure company which has the rights to hold the race, could come under critical scrutiny from the Labour government.

Trade Secretary Steven Byers yesterday sprung a major surprise when he referred the deal between Octagon and the BRDC to the Competition Commission. He said that the deal "raised competition concerns in respect of the market for the provision of circuits for motor racing and related activities."

Under the terms of the deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, Octagon was granted a 15-year lease to manage the Northamptonshire circuit. The company declined to comment on the surprise development, although one observer told the Daily Telegraph newspaper; "This deal was signed and agreed. I am gobsmacked that they have done this now."

It is difficult to see precisely what sort of objection could be raised to the deal as there are no other licensed F1 circuits in the country who are realistically in a position to make a bid for the race.

The commission is set to report back on the issue by August 6th.

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