DECEMBER 7, 2004
When in doubt, go on the offensive
Bernie Ecclestone has responded to the defeat in the High Court by telling journalists that he has a new offer for the Formula 1 teams, if they agree to sign up to a new Concorde Agreement beginning at the start of 2008. If everyone signs, it seems that Bernie is proposing to move the starting date of the new agreement forward and it could even begin in 2005. But, according to our sources, the offer has not been formally made to the team bosses and there is a fundamental problem in that the deal does not appear to be offering equal shares of the money to all the teams. The money being discussed is in the region of $400m and is the money that was left over after the Eurobond issue which the banks involved requested as a guarantee for the bond.
By dangling money in front of the cash-strapped teams at the back of the grid, Ecclestone hopes he will be able to split the teams with some agreeing to join him and others sticking with the GPWC. Ecclestone reckons that if he can get the majority of the teams the others will be forced to follow. Obviously Ferrari is once again the key to the deal but there is believed to be an agreement between the members of the GPWC that they will not do any deals with the Formula One group until the current Concorde Agreement ends. It is also not clear whether or not the money can be handed out without the other shareholders in the Formula One group having to agree.
"They can have the money from next year if they want," Ecclestone said. "It's a lot of cash and over and above the sums they signed up to in the Concorde Agreement. I think the teams will want to accept it."
It is unlikely that the GPWC would be in a position to offer the same kind of money within the same time frame but much will depend on the terms of Ecclestone's offer.
The interesting thing is that if Ecclestone wants teams to sign up to the deal it would be easier if they were short of cash which means that it is not really in his interest to push the cost-cutting measures that are being discussed.
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