SBD Global/January 12, 2017/Franchises

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  • McLaren Reviews Possibility Of Buying Stake In Formula 1, Team Exec Says

    McLaren is the only team on the F1 grid that uses Honda engines.

    McLaren is taking a close look at the possibility of purchasing a stake in Formula 1, team Exec Dir Zak Brown said. The British team is currently reviewing an offer by F1 owner Liberty Media and is weighing up its pros and cons before making a decision. “We think it’s great that Liberty has offered the teams to invest,” Brown told SBD Global. “It’s great to invest in the sport. Obviously, we are heavily invested just with our racing team. They just brought [their offer] to everyone’s attention, it’s quite sophisticated. We are reviewing that now and it will ultimately be a decision for our shareholders.” Media reports have suggested Liberty Media is providing constructors with the opportunity to buy a stake of up to 5% in the business. Depending on the number of teams interested in the offer, the individual percentage each team will be able to purchase could decrease, as Liberty Media will only make a combined stake of 22% available. While teams would get a share of F1’s annual profits, they would not receive any voting rights regarding the series’ future strategy, technology, prize money distribution or the appointment of senior officials. Brown, however, does not believe the lack of voting rights would deter potential investors. “It’s an economic investment decision,” he said. “I think there are a lot of different ways that the governance of the sport can be run in the future, and I think investing and having a board seat is one way, but it’s not the only way.” The series’ big teams, including Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, are seen as the most likely candidates to invest, considering the smaller constructors are simply lacking the funds. Despite Liberty offering a rebate to the teams, a 1% stake still would cost in the region of $40M. The U.S. media company is said to have set a deadline for the end of January before it opens up the stock up to a wider audience.

    Zak Brown
    COMING TO AMERICA: Many in the industry count on Liberty Media to deliver the U.S. market to F1. It is a market the series has struggled to remain relevant throughout its history. "Formula 1 is not anywhere near the size of popularity that I think we all believe it can be," Brown said. "We need more than one race there. We need to have a bigger presence there. It's a big market with lots of sport and entertainment competition. ... We just need to have more penetration in the market and the popularity will grow because people love Formula 1. We just need to expose America to it more." The Circuit of the Americas, Haas F1 Team and NBC, whose broadcast contract will expire after the season, are important puzzle pieces to F1's future success in the States, Brown added.

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  • Renault Formula 1 Team, Frederic Vasseur Agree To Part Ways

    Vasseur leaves Renault one day after Lowe's departure from Mercedes.

    Formula 1's "winter of change continued on Wednesday" with Renault and Team Principal Frederic Vasseur "parting company" a day after champion Mercedes announced the departure of Technical Dir Paddy Lowe, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Although "likely to be unconnected," the two exits provided "further evidence of a major pre-season shake-up of the paddock landscape." McLaren had "already parted company" with Chair Ron Dennis, while engineering head Pat Symonds left Williams at the end of last year. The Manor team is "meanwhile facing an uncertain future after going into administration this month." Renault said that the split with Vasseur "was by mutual consent." It "promised more information" when it unveils the '17 car on Feb. 21 (REUTERS, 1/11). The BBC's Andrew Benson reported the move "comes after months of claims by sources of a difficult relationship" between Vasseur and Renault Sport Managing Dir Cyril Abiteboul. But a company statement added that Renault and Vasseur expected to work together again in "a new form in the future." Renault added that the team "would continue to be managed" by President Jerome Stoll and Abiteboul (BBC, 1/11).

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  • Franchise Notes: Jersey Reds Hopes To Buy Back Ground Within Three Years

    Rugby Football Union Championship side Jersey Reds Chair Mark Morgan "hopes the club will be able to buy back" its "ground within three years." The club was forced to sell its assets for £1.5M in November "in order to see out the season." Jersey hopes to sell a plot of land that it owns for £750,000 ($915,000) "within the next few months to halve" its target. Morgan said, "It is a huge amount of money, but we've got a very large support base and sponsor base and a lot of people that really want to help. So when you think about that as £250,000 ($305,000) a year for three years, it should be achievable." The club is one of three Championship clubs to have had "financial difficulties" this season. London Welsh went into liquidation in December, while Cornish Pirates was forced to change owners in September "in order to survive" (BBC, 1/11).

    Championship rugby side Bradford is "bracing" for "more player departures as efforts continue to re-launch the four-time Super League champions." Hopes remain that one of the four bids to form a new company to run a Bradford team in the 2017 Championship will be successful but plans for a fundraising match at Batley on Sunday have "been scrapped because they may not have enough players." Batley CEO Paul Harrison said, "The match was sanctioned by the RFL but some more players are leaving Bradford and they are struggling to raise a team." Sunday's friendly had been arranged "long before the Bradford club went bust," rendering all 31 players free agents, but it was "hoped it could still go ahead with players still loyal to the club." There have been seven confirmed departures from the Bulls following the decision of administrators to liquidate the club. Batley "pledged to share the gate receipts with the Bradford players and staff after they missed their December wages" because the club was "in administration and problems over insurance were resolved" (PA, 1/11).

    Real Madrid's James Rodríguez was the subject of a "massive bid" by Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune two weeks ago. The Colombian was "quick to nip any possibility of a move to the Far East in the bud" -- even though he would have earned "ten times his current salary." It is understood that the 25-year-old, who is on a €3.5M ($3.7M)-per-year salary "at the Bernabéu," would have "pocketed" an annual €30M ($31.7M) at the CSL "outfit" (AS, 1/11).

    The FA charged Man City in relation to the organization's rules on anti-doping. The matter refers to rules concerning "club whereabouts" and does not concern player misconduct. It is understood that Man City is "charged in relation to the whereabouts of junior and senior players and includes alleged changes to training schedules" (SKY SPORTS, 1/11).

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