A defiant Bernie Ecclestone has accused F1 teams of being greedy with regard to the renegotiation of the commercial rights-governing Concorde Agreement, arguing that 'they should be happy with what they've got' and insisting there is 'no chance' of them receiving the 70 per cent share of the sport's revenue for which they are clamouring.
Ecclestone was speaking in response to the latest threat from Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo that the teams could choose to form a 'breakaway' series of their own, with the Italian contending last week that F1 has 'three alternatives' for its future direction beyond the end of next season, one of which being to follow the example of the NBA in the United States in 'creating our own company to run the races, the TV rights and so on' [see separate story – click here
] – and another being to 'find a different partner'.
The teams are unhappy with the 50 per cent of F1's financial pie that they presently receive – with the other 50 per cent going to swell the coffers of the sport's current majority owners CVC Capital Partners – and they have called for their share to be increased to 70 per cent before they agree to the terms of a new Concorde Agreement. The existing accord expires in 2012.
In the past, much of di Montezemolo's posturing has been dismissed as just that, but in the light of Ferrari's very tangible link to the purported News Corp/Exor interest in purchasing F1's commercial rights from CVC – with Italian investment giant Exor holding a 30 per cent stake in FIAT, Ferrari's controlling shareholder – this time it has been afforded rather more credence. By everybody, it would seem, except Ecclestone.
“Oh yes, we all know di Montezemolo's emotional side, but how often has Ferrari actually gone?” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive confidently asserted in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick
. “Forget the Concorde Agreement; CVC bought F1 at a time when there was basically no Concorde Agreement and the manufacturers were threatening us with a rival series. It was the worst possible time to buy, and yet CVC paid good money. Today, the risk is even lower.”
Ecclestone has been similarly adamant ever since Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation conglomerate revealed its interest in the sport that CVC has no desire to relinquish the reins, and speaking to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
, he reaffirmed that conviction.
“They are happy with F1,” underlined the British billionaire. “What they earn from it, they use to run their other businesses. The future is good. Why should they sell? In the last five Concorde Agreements, the teams wanted more money. There is no chance they're getting 70 per cent – they should be happy with what they've got.”