HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship series director Alan Gow has welcomed the announcement that Arena International Motorsport is to bring the Ford name back to the championship next season.

Ford hasn't been represented in the BTCC - aside from in the now-defunct Production Class - since the Blue Oval withdrew at the end of the 2000 season, while Arena haven't appeared in the series since 2005.

Previously responsible for the works Honda team, which ran drivers including multiple WTCC title winner Andy Priaulx, Arena has already confirmed that former driver Tom Chilton will spearhead its return with the Ford Focus - which will be competing in the series for the first time.

Arena will hope to see it build on the success of previous Ford models, including the iconic Sierra RS500 and the Mondeo, which helped to make Ford the most successful manufacturer in BTCC history in terms of race wins.

"I'm delighted to welcome both Arena and the Ford name back into the BTCC," Gow said. "Having had a close insight on this programme, for many months, I have no doubt that Arena's expertise and superb attention to detail will enable it to quickly turn the Focus into a front-running car in the BTCC, just as it did with Honda's Civic earlier this decade.

"And of course the Ford name means so much to so many motor sport and motoring enthusiasts across the UK and around the world. Although an independent entry, the fact the Ford name is back on the grid and being run by such a skilful team is sure to gain this project a tremendous following.

"This is more great news for the BTCC and all of our fans, after the championship enjoyed yet another rise in trackside attendances and unheard of levels of live television coverage from ITV in 2008. With an ever-increasing variety of cars competing in the BTCC, I'm extremely excited by how our 2009 season is shaping up... no doubt we will see some iconic battles between all these great marques."