Both Bernie Ecclestone and teams' association FOTA have issued statements in the Melbourne paddock in an effort to clear up the simmering row over monies supposedly owed to teams competing at the Australian Grand Prix.

The media reported, during the build-up to the opening race of the 2009 season, that several teams - including expected frontrunners McLaren and Renault - had threatened not to make the trip to Australia until prize money owing from previous seasons had been paid in full by the sport's commercial rights holder CVC.

FOTA's statement, while avoiding reference to the teams' alleged threat to boycott the Albert Park event, confirmed that talks had been held on 18 March to discuss 'sums owing from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 championship years', but was countered by a reply from the offices of the Ecclestone-headed Formula One Administration, which insisted that 'all prize fund entitlements payable to signatory teams [under the now expired Concorde Agreement] were paid when due'.

"Formula One Administration Limited, the commercial rights holder of Formula One, wishes to clarify and correct inaccurate and misleading statements made to the media yesterday by 'FOTA'," the riposte read, apparently underlining a reluctance to recognise the teams' body.

"In particular, FOTA claimed that monies are owed by CVC (FOA's controlling shareholder) to the teams for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Championship seasons. Neither CVC nor FOA owes any amount to any team.

"The contract between the commercial rights holder and the teams competing in Formula One, the so-called Concorde Agreement, expired at the end of 2007. All prize fund entitlements payable to the signatory teams under that arrangement were paid when due."

The missive went on to highlight the divide that continues to exist between those teams that have committed to a new commercial agreement and those still holding out for better terms.

"FOA has made new contracts with various teams currently competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship on an individual basis, whereby the team has committed to participate in the Championship for an agreed period in return for which FOA has agreed to pay a share of an annual prize fund generated from and calculated with reference to its profits. Each of these teams has been paid its full prize fund entitlement to date.

"A few teams have yet to enter into a contract with FOA concerning their participation in the Championship, notwithstanding which FOA has made substantial payments to each of them on account of future prize fund entitlements they will have when they sign a contract, demonstrating FOA's goodwill and intent to conclude a new arrangement with them.

"FOA welcomes that the teams are engaging in constructive discussions to progress a new Concorde Agreement that will encompass all teams. FOA looks forward to finalising and concluding that contract with the teams in the coming weeks, at which time they will be paid whatever their entitlement will be under the new arrangement.

"FOA has no relationship with FOTA. It has always had a direct relationship with teams and will continue to do so."

The FOTA statement, meanwhile, claimed that its ten members remain united in their position, and underlined that the talks between Ecclestone, Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore and Toyota's John Howett were designed to expedite the process of creating a successor to the expired Concorde Agreement.

"FOTA wish to clarify the situation regarding remarks that have been widely reported in the last few days concerning a meeting between members of FOTA and the Commercial Rights Holder.

"The purpose of the meeting was to discuss payment of money owed by CVC to the teams and relates to agreed sums owing from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 championship years.

"FOTA are committed to accelerate the signing of the new Concorde Agreement and, as part of the conditions necessary to obtain the signatures of all the teams, it was necessary to reach a conclusion to this outstanding matter.

"During the discussions, any position stated by the members of FOTA who were present was supported by all members."



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