MAY 26, 2002
Ecclestone looking to sort out Kirch problems
FORMULA ONE boss Bernie Ecclestone says that his main priority is to extricate Formula 1 from the problems associated with the collapse of the Kirch empire. Although some of the Kirch companies are still operating, the German media empire is, in effect, being run by creditor banks and they are obviously not keen on giving away more money than they have to do. Because Kirch controls the purse strings of the Formula One group (even if Ecclestone makes the decisions) this is something of a problem, particularly as the Formula One holding company has to pay off the Eurobond in the course of the next few years.
"My first priority is to try and sort out the whole business of the demise of Kirch," Ecclestone told reporters in Monaco. "And try to get that put to bed. Then we must stop the manufacturers going around saying they want their own series - which they probably don't. We have to try to get them onboard with us and make everyone happy."
Ecclestone also said that most of the teams and manufacturers want him to stay.
"They have asked me to defect and come with them of they start a new championship," he said.
But there are still serious financial problems for some teams in F1 and Ecclestone admitted that he thinks that two teams will close down shortly. It is no reported that Bernie was referring to Arrows and Minardi. The two teams are both in difficulties and there is an ongoing dispute over money as there is something like $12m available after the demise of Kirch. It is believed that if this money was released Minardi would be all right for the rest of the year but at the moment the release of the money is being blocked by one of the signatories to the Concorde Agreement. Most of the team owners report that they are in favor of the money going to Minardi but it seems Tom Walkinshaw is not.
Whatever the details and the arguments involved there is little doubt that things are now coming to a head and there are likely to be some dramatic events in the weeks ahead.
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