In the wake of mounting pressure, Sir Jackie Stewart has agreed as a gesture of goodwill to go unpaid in his sporting ambassadorial role for the Royal Bank of Scotland this year - as the bank reels from posting the most significant corporate loss in British history.

It was suggested last month that 'it would go down very well with the British public if some of them (the sporting ambassadors, including aside from the former triple Formula 1 World Champion, tennis ace Andy Murray, golfer Jack Nicklaus and the Queen's horse-riding grand-daughter Zara Phillips) were to cancel their contracts' [see separate story - click here] in the light of the huge debt RBS is battling, and the fact that it is now 70 per cent taxpayer-owned after receiving a government bail-out to the tune of ?33 billion.

Stewart has a reputed ?4 million contract with RBS until 2011, and in his role represents the bank at corporate and sporting functions and entertains its VIP guests at grands prix around the globe. Though he had previously insisted that he was in no way to blame for the unprecedented collapse and as such should not be liable to take a hit for it, it would appear the Scot has since had a change of heart.

"We are in discussions and I have made them a very generous offer," the 69-year-old is quoted as having said by UK newspaper The Times. "RBS and I get on very well; I have been there now since 2003 and I have a very good relationship with the bank.

"We have a contract and we have a relationship, and I think you'll find the bank is very satisfied with what I do for them. Nobody has come to me with regard to taking less money, but I have made them an offer. That is between the bank and myself.

"I'm very proud to be associated with the bank. I have had nothing to do with any of the troubles with the bank. I want to be part of building the bank back to where it would like to be."

RBS has courted considerable controversy of late over disgraced former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin's determination to hold onto his ?700,000-a-year pension, allied to the fact that the name of the 50-year-old - a close friend of Stewart's - has been mentioned in connection with taking over the role of FIA President from Max Mosley once the latter steps down.

The bank has also announced that it is to end its backing of Williams at the end of the 2010 campaign, after being widely criticised for spending too much of its money on sports sponsorship, splashing out ?200 million on its associated sports stars for promotional purposes in recent years.

"Sir Jackie has offered to fulfil his contractual obligations in 2009 without payment, which RBS is very pleased to accept," revealed a statement from the bank. "In recognition of the changed financial and economic circumstances facing RBS, Sir Jackie Stewart has been in discussion with the group over a period of weeks about the remaining terms of his contract.

"Sir Jackie wants to help the bank with its new strategic objective of rebuilding stand-alone strength by serving its customers well, in the UK and globally, in the next three years."

"This is a tremendous gesture by Sir Jackie," added Andrew McLaughlin, head of communications at RBS. "He has worked tirelessly and with great success for the group over a number of years.

"His commitment and loyalty at such a challenging time is greatly appreciated by everyone at RBS."

Last month, Murray - currently the men's world number four in tennis - agreed to renegotiate his own deal with RBS.

Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister John Prescott has threatened to make public what he describes as embarrassing conversations between Stewart and Tony Blair regarding the completion of a bypass at Silverstone, of whose owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) the 27-time grand prix-winner is a senior member.

The ?100 million bypass was completed in time for the 2002 race, following an ?8 million injection from the then prime minister - against civil advice. Prescott, The Times reports, has threatened to give Stewart a 'knightmare' unless he cuts his RBS ties.

"I don't quite understand what Mr Prescott has in mind for me," confessed the West Dunbartonshire-born star. "I don't know what I've done."



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