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FEBRUARY 15, 2005

Intrigue at the BRDC (What's new?)

The British Racing Drivers' Club rarely stays out of the news for long and the latest press release is a real humdinger when it comes to political interpretation. Sir Jackie Stewart says he is not going to contribute the same amount of time to the club as he has done in the last five years. In the course of the release it is noted that the BRDC will put "new corporate governance structures in place in relation to the roles of the president, the chairman, the chief executive, the BRDC board and its operating subsidiary companies".Ê This would seem to suggest that Stewart is not therefore going to be in a position to push ahead in the role of executive president, which seemed to be the case after the last board meeting, at which the chairman Ray Bellm was forced to step down from that position. The big question is what caused Stewart to change his mind and begin to talk about being "happy to continue as president of the club in an ambassadorial position".

Stewart says that this is all due to his professional activities and his "new and increasing role" with the Royal Bank of Scotland. As we understand it, that role was defined some while ago and has not changed so one must conclude therefore that something else has changed Sir Jackie's plans because in January he was quoted as saying that although a lot of companies are headed by a chairman, "the BRDC is different - the president leads the company".

The indications from all of this are that the membership of the club does not agree with Stewart's view of the future and that this may have been communicated to him and, to save embarrassment in the future, he has decided to be more of a figurehead.

The details of all of this are, inevitably, not something about which those involved wish to talk but we hear that when the board meets on January 24 the conversation will centre on how to structure the club for its much more commercial future. The role of chairman has always been a working role and there is no reason why that should change.

The president, it seems, will retain the honorific role he has always enjoyed.