The revelation that the man who presided over the greatest corporate loss in British history is possibly being lined up to succeed Max Mosley as FIA President has been received with widespread anger, with leading figures claiming it would be 'the reward of failure'.

It was rumoured last month that Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was one of the front-running candidates for the hugely influential and powerful presidential role when Mosley steps down - which could be as early as October this year - and that he has already been approached by Formula 1's governing body to that end.

The controversy arises from the fact that it was 51-year-old Goodwin who oversaw the recently-announced, unprecedented ?28 billion loss and massive collapse in RBS' share price - walking away from the ensuing crisis with an ?8.4 million pension fund - and shareholders believe it would be both a mistake and an injustice were that failure to be rewarded.

"What are Sir Fred's qualifications?" Roger Lawson, the communications director of the UK Shareholders Association, asked in an interview with The Scotsman. "I would have thought the FIA have enough public relations problems already. This will just make things worse for them. They must have a very peculiar board to come up with this nominee - surely there must be plenty of other people qualified for the post.

"This really is the reward of failure, and if it goes ahead, will be a real poke in the eye for RBS shareholders. I think anyone thinking of appointing him should be examining Sir Fred's career very carefully before they go ahead.

"In terms of networking or public relations, he's such a public figure. Everyone will know where he has come from - it would start them on the wrong foot immediately. I would have thought the FIA would need somebody with a good reputation."

Lawson's last comment is a reference to the tabloid sex scandal in which Mosley became embroiled early last year, and which threatened to not only bring him down but indeed drag the entire sport into disrepute.

Sir Fred - a law graduate and keen motorsport enthusiast with a penchant for driving his Ferrari around Knockhill and restoring classic cars - played an instrumental part, alongside close friend and triple F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, RBS' sporting ambassador, in securing Williams its multi-million pound sponsorship agreement with the bank .

That deal is believed to be playing in his favour now, though with financial institutions shying away from sponsorship rather than joining the fray amidst the current global credit crunch, industry insiders have warned that Goodwin's influence in the sector could ultimately count for little.

"In many ways, Sir Fred can do what he likes in the future," mused Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott. "If an organisation wants to hire Fred Goodwin, I guess they would know what he brings to the job.

"I do hope Sir Fred does not expect any banks to sponsor Formula 1 in the future, though. It would really stick in our craws to have well-paid Formula 1 drivers paid for through taxpayers' banks."

"The impression from the people I met at the Gyle yesterday when I was shopping was that hanging was too good for him," added independent MSP Margo MacDonald. "The impression will be that failure is being rewarded. It will seem as if, at a certain position, there is a reward for failure, but further on down the food chain there is nothing of the sort.

"I met a taxi driver aged 68 who used to work for RBS and has lost ?20,000 - that was his security for retirement. He is one of many who are suffering from what has happened."

"I think that he has obviously had a lot of impact in the banking sector," agreed John Park, Labour MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife and the party's spokesman on the economy. "I wouldn't want to curtail anyone's future career prospects, but it would be right for him to concentrate on helping us learn the lessons which need to be learned from the banking crisis."

Meanwhile, lawyer Ian Hamilton, QC - a man who has begun a legal case against RBS - admitted that whilst 'some day, somewhere, he (Goodwin) will be held to account for what he has done...that doesn't mean he can't work until then'.

Mosley is due to decide in June as to whether or not he will remain in the post for a fifth term, having replaced Frenchman Jean-Marie Balestre back in 1993, and he has already stipulated the qualities that will be required in a potential successor.

"He, or she, will require a great deal of patience," the 68-year-old warned, "and [will] ideally have an ability to understand quickly a great variety of technical and legal issues.

"I would advise a potential successor to think very carefully before standing for election. The difficulty is finding somebody who has the necessary experience, but also the time and inclination to do the job."

Aside from Goodwin, former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has also been repeatedly mooted as a candidate for the role, but with murmurings from a number of quarters within the grand prix paddock that the FIA is already biased towards the Scuderia, promotion for the Frenchman would likely ruffle more than a few feathers.



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