Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Formula One is Dying of Greed



And so, only months after Bernie was booted out of Formula One and days since one of his daughters began divorce proceedings meaning he might soon need to make another wedge, his ignominious legacy of greed and rapacious demands is once again coming home to roost. The great traditional Grand Prix venues of Europe are slowly dying as they find that, however popular they are with paying spectators, they simply cannot stump up the cash to the travelling circus in the quantities demanded of them.

Yesterday Silverstone announced that is will invoke a break clause in its contract with F1 meaning that it will no longer host the British GP so that its current bill of £12 million per race weekend does not increase to £27 million.

It has reached the point now that the only nations who will soon be able to afford these eye watering sums will be those in the grip of vicious dictators, Arabian potentates or some combination of the two. All of the new venues are hosting races in billion dollar shiny new venues and paid for by states keen to show off to the world.

Ecclestone used to loudly complain that the British Grand Prix received no governmental aid or subsidy. To which the answer is clearly: why should it? Formula One is a fantastically wealthy sport paying its star drivers exorbitant sums making them the world's highest paid sportsmen. It is a sport awash in cash, high technology and glamour. The British Grand Prix is by far the biggest spectator event in the UK, with the last event attracting 300, 000 people over the the course of the weekend. If that still cannot turn a profit then something is woefully wrong with the economics of this sport.

And indeed this is the case. The greed of the organisers has meant that they not only got to keep the money from all of the various commercial sources and from television, they even charge the venues themselves to host the race weekend. No organisation would be able to turn a profit that way. Yet Ecclestone demanded that instead of his cutting his fees Silverstone should receive a subsidy from taxpayers.

Silverstone is right to back out of this contract and if Silverstone is doing so then no other racetrack in the UK will be able to step into its shoes. It has already taken races to satellite TV meaning that big audiences are gone forever and now the main live event is set to be killed off too. F1 is a great British tradition with most of the major teams based here too. But it should no more be subsidised by you and me than should Manchester United. The only disappointment is that they weren't able to tell Bernie Ecclestone himself to get stuffed.

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