Peter Hain, the MP for Neath and former Secretary of State for Wales, has called for the Welsh Assembly to reverse its decision to terminate its sponsorship deal with Wales Rally GB.

The Government made the surprise announcement that it will withdraw its funding for the event last night, with the suggestion being that its decision was down to the fact that Wales Rally GB isn't due to be a round of the WRC in 2010.

Reports elsewhere have also suggested that the decision may have been taken to 'balance the books' due to the money being invested in the Ryder Cup, which will visit Celtic Manor in October next year.

The removal of Government funding has now called into question whether or not the 2009 running of Wales Rally GB will actually happen, but Hain insisted it was important for the event to take place.

"Wales Rally GB plays a pivotal role in the Welsh sporting calendar, bringing both significant prestige and investment to the country," he said. "It's a 'jewel in the crown' event that we must all work to keep on the calendar as a world championship rally.

"I firmly hope the decision is therefore reversed."

Andrew Coe, chief executive of event organisers International Motor Sports Limited, added that he was waiting for further clarification for the government on the situation and said that there was still a possibility that Wales Rally GB could still be on the WRC calendar next year.

"In September 2007, the FIA published a provisional calendar for 2010 that did not include Wales Rally GB," he said. "Since then, IMS has been in constant dialogue to secure the event's reinstatement and the global promoter of the WRC, International Sportsworld Communicators (ISC), has publicly given the strongest possible indication that WRGB will form part of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship calendar. A revised 2010 WRC calendar will not be finalised until it is approved by the World Motor Sports Council later this year.

"The Welsh Assembly Government is fully aware of this position, has been kept informed at every stage and has, to date, been very supportive of the situation.

"Nonetheless, irrespective of the status of the 2010 event - a situation that, should it arise, is clearly catered for within the existing contract - the Welsh Assembly Government has given notice that its support of the 2009 event is to be terminated. We are unsure as to why this has happened, given both the world championship status of the event and the existing contract.

"WRGB and the Welsh Assembly Government have enjoyed an extremely fruitful relationship over the last six years. We await clarification on the Welsh Assembly Government's sponsorship of the 2009 event, as well as continuing our partnership up to and including 2011, which is covered by the existing contract."


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