Who runs Formula 1? For years it has been an easy answer: Bernie Ecclestone. The Harry Potter-lookalike billionaire has held his iron grip over the sport for years, but rumours abound that he is getting ready to cede control of F1 by floating it on an Asian stock exchange, appointing a chief executive and a board. In short, F1 would be run more like a company, and less like Bernie’s own medieval fiefdom.
At first glance these moves seem to be a good idea. For sport fans, equitability and accountability are key factors holding their support, and floating the F1 brand on the likely platform of the Singapore stock exchange would add at least a little democracy to the sport. But surprise, surprise: on closer inspection, something about the proposed deal smells like week-old petrol.
It seems that ol’ Bernie is only prepared to take his mitts off the wheel if his pals are allowed to put theirs in his place. Under terms of a proposed agreement seen by Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman, representatives of the powerful teams Ferrari and Red Bull would each hold a seat on the board. McLaren – one of the sport’s most successful teams and a long-term F1 investor – would not get a seat. The story proved so inflammatory to teams excluded from the deal that it was reportedly put on hold at Sky News, after Martin Turner – producer of Sky’s specialist F1 channel – phoned in from Australia to warn of potential friction with the sport’s top dogs. So, a leading news channel’s output was effectively neutered to protect the sensitivities of Sky’s lucrative, new client base.
How is any of this equitable or accountable I hear you cry? Well, I’d say it isn’t. The term “sporting” means to be fair. The term “a level playing field” has entered into the parlance of our times and what seems to be going on at Eccleston HQ is just not cricket. Sports should live and die by their fairness – and if the fans had their way, they would.
In reality, the purity of events such as the Dog and Duck FC playing Chelsea in the FA Cup Third Round are all too rare. The planned F1 overhaul echoes the changes made to increase the number of teams in the European Cup and protecting ‘franchise’ quarterbacks in America’s NFL: they are not choices made with fairness – or even entertainment – in mind. They are choices dictated by money.
But cash is what really runs Formula 1.
Management ups and downs
The vice president of football operations of the NFL’s Denver Broncos has successfully secured the services of Hall of Fame-bound quarterback Peyton Manning for the next few years, according to ESPN. The Broncos beat off a field of around 12 teams looking to sign the former Super Bowl winner.
Poor Roberto. He’s won four on the bounce since taking on the Chelsea job as caretaker manager, beating Napoli in the process – and even getting goal-drought-blighted striker Fernando Torres to score again. So, why the relegation? Because the bookies have him at 5/1 to win the job full time… behind Jose Mourinho.