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Could the BRDC sell Silverstone?

Update: We were right to feel suspicious of this story – Pitpass dug a bit further and its business editor Chris Sylt reckons The Guardian got the wrong end of the stick. The actual plan might be to get a company in to manage the circuit – more here: http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=37928. Our original story remains below.

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Claims that the Silverstone race circuit could be put up for sale in order to ease financial pressures on its owners have been made by a newspaper this weekend.

The Guardian says it has details of a confidential letter from British Racing Drivers’ Club chairman Robert Brooks to members suggesting the sale of the circuit.

It also suggests that Bernie Ecclestone would be the obvious candidate to buy the track – but it is hard to judge the strength of either claim since it states the existence of the letter but provides no quotes or meaningful context.

It does not source the Ecclestone claim. And we have no idea, for example, whether the letter pitches a sale as the most desirable option, enjoying high-level backing, or merely suggests it as one of a range of possibilities that should be considered for completeness.

The paper says: “This could be a sign that the BRDC is considering an end to the unequal struggle to make a profit from the grand prix while attempting to meet the financial demands of Bernie Ecclestone, formula one’s commercial-rights holder.

“It could also pave the way for Ecclestone, or his representatives, to purchase Silverstone and run the race as he pleases, an objective that has motivated his battle with the club’s members, the majority of whom irritate him intensely.

“The realisation might have dawned that the British GP will never return to a BRDC-owned Silverstone for as long Ecclestone draws breath and that a retreat by the BRDC and its middle-aged members to a social club in a quiet location somewhere might be the best solution.”

In July last year, shortly after the announcement that the British Grand Prix would be leaving the circuit in 2010, we asked: would the British GP have sent the BRDC bankrupt?

That was based on quotes from BRDC Vice-President Sir Jackie Stewart, who said at the time: “I am disappointed Silverstone is losing the British Grand Prix. But, quite frankly, it is very difficult for a private members’ club to try and continue to afford the kind of monies needed to retain the race in this country.

“Almost every other country in the world that hosts a grand prix, if not every one, has government support.

“I don’t think there is the opportunity for any promoter, given the present cost of Formula One, to make ends meet. For the BRDC to continually lose money, just to keep the British Grand Prix, is not correct.

“Eventually it would have bankrupted the BRDC.”

Read the full Guardian story here >>


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