JUNE 22, 2008
A few more days of calm
The FIA World Motor Sport Council will meet in Paris on Wednseday and we anticipate that there will be discussions over a proposal that will, if agreed, spark a major fight for the control of Formula 1. At Magny-Cours the F1 world has been very quiet, although everyone is very aware that this is the calm before the storm, and that the conflict between Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone is heading towards an explosion.
Our spies tell is that the proposal being put forward is that the FIA will only agree to a new Concorde Agreement if everyone else involved agrees to a substantial redistribution of Formula 1 wealth. The FIA is expected to argue that too much money is leaving the sport and wants a new agreement in which the teams share the majority of the race fees and two-thirds of the TV revenues. At the moment the current deal is that the teams get 50% of all revenues generated by the Formula One group of companies. Such a suggestion would push that figure up to around 75%. This would probably make it impossible for CVC Capital Partners, which controls the Formula One group, to make the debt payments necessary on the loan it took, which was secured on the future profits of the F1 world.
This move is likely to get Mosley the support of most of the teams, even if they are not keen to be associated with the FIA president as a result of his recent sex scandal. It is not just a question of money, however, as there are questions of governance that many of the teams want answered as well. No-one we have spoken to has shown any great enthusiasm for the idea of Mosley being replaced by ex-Ferrari boss Jean Todt, which appears to be Mosley's plan at the moment.
However, money is money and teams that worry about it such things are likely to be keen on the idea. Others may simply stand back and watch the fight in the hope that it may end with a completely new structure and perhaps completely new management on both sides.
The FIA is at an advantage as the official status of the World Championship and the difficulty in starting a rival series means that most of the teams will stay with the federation, even if they are not keen on Mosley. And if more money is on offer then the logic is stronger still. The rumoured proposal means that CVC cannot match the offer because it must pay the banks more than it will have available, unless Ecclestone and his partners are willing to put money back into the business, which is not thought to be very likely.
The big question is whether or not the two sides are actually looking for a compromise, as would normally be the case, or whether this time the fight is a mortal combat over control of the sport.
The signs are that it is the latter.
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