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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "is planning to launch a masters series for former Formula One drivers following the concept which has been made popular by sports such as golf and tennis," according to Christian Sylt for FORBES. It would see "superstar drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet return to racing and has already been endorsed by several of the leading lights from yesteryear." Ecclestone said, "A series with former drivers is a good idea. We have talked about it and it is something we ought to do. Many of these old drivers are still absolutely good enough. You would put them in the cars they used to drive." Ecclestone’s interest "was revealed by a European trademark application which was filed in February by Formula One Licensing to protect the name 'Historic Formula One.'" A masters series "would also boost F1’s revenue which would please CVC, the private equity firm which controls the race series through its parent company Delta Topco." A similar racing series, known as Grand Prix Masters, "was launched in 2005 and featured ex-F1 drivers over the age of 40, competing against each other in modern 3.5-liter single-seater cars." It "held three races" -- in South Africa, Qatar and at Silverstone. The series "was shut down in 2007 after failing to pay its bills" (FORBES, 4/16).

SPONSORSHIP GURU: In a separate piece for CITY AM, Sylt reported Ecclestone "plans to recruit a head of sponsorship this month." Sponsorship comprises 14.7%, or $225M of F1’s $1.6B annual revenue, yet "it has growth potential as it lacks partners in categories such as clothing, mobile phones and soft drinks." Ecclestone receives advice from former former IOC Marketing Dir Michael Payne, who was also the senior strategic advisor to the London 2012 Olympics, but said that "he will need closer assistance when his bribery trial begins in Germany" next Thursday. Ecclestone: "We need somebody who can sell sponsorship. Not a successor, but somebody to help me" (CITY AM, 4/15).

Force India F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg "has dismissed speculation that the drivers in F1 might go on strike over unpaid wages," according to CRASH. Hülkenberg "was one of a number of drivers that had problems last season," the others most notably being Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean. Ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix there have been reports that the Grand Prix Drivers' Association members "had all signed a document saying they will strike if any members are not paid." Asked if that is true, Hülkenberg said that "was definitely not the case." Hülkenberg: "We all need to stick our heads together to see what we can do and come up with a solution" (CRASH, 4/17).

Good Friday football in '15 would be played in the afternoon if Channel Seven had its way, but the Australian Football League has suggested that "it might be preferable at night," according to Jake Niall of THE AGE. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou also said there was ''no frontrunner'' for the likely Good Friday game next year, as a number of clubs lobby to play in what is seen as a "potential blockbuster slot." Demetriou did confirm that Channel Seven -- which had a long-term tradition of broadcasting the Royal Children's Hospital Appeal -- "wanted an afternoon game to fit in with that commitment." Demetriou: ''Channel Seven's view is that they would like to play this game in the afternoon, and not at night, and that's not a view that is shared by a lot of people. A lot of people think it should be played at night" (THE AGE, 4/17). In Melbourne, Daniel Cherny wrote "the AFL must resist the temptation to simply replace an existing blockbuster on Good Friday," and should instead utilize the opportunity to schedule financially weaker clubs as a method of equalization. That is the view of Western Bulldogs President Peter Gordon, "who hit back on Thursday morning over speculation that powerful Essendon would be part of an inaugural Good Friday game next year" (THE AGE, 4/17).

Heeding to the demands of some affiliated State units, the Board of Control for Cricket in India "has decided to convene an Emergent Working Committee meeting" in Mumbai on Sunday to take stock of the developments relating to the case before the Supreme Court regarding the Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting scandal, according to the PTI. The meeting comes in the wake of the Supreme Court making it clear Wednesday that former BCCI President N. Srinivasan cannot head the BCCI "till he comes out clean in a probe conducted against him and 12 others" in the IPL betting and spot fixing scandal" (PTI, 4/17). The PTI reported former President on Thursday rued that "there was no one in the Board to take on" who is facing the heat over the spot-fixing and betting scandal. Srinivasan, who had ignored repeated calls for his resignation, "has been stripped of his presidential powers by the Supreme till he is cleared of alleged wrongdoings in the scandal." Manohar: "The Board lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan who is shamelessly and stubbornly sticking to his chair" (PTI, 4/17).

The Indian Super League, promoted by IMG-Reliance and , "is set to provide the much needed relief to India's oldest football clubs such as East Bengal and among others," according to Digbijay Mishra of the Indian BUSINESS STANDARD. Though various stakeholders of the game are seeking more clarity into the ISL, football clubs are set to get financial support via the -style league as these clubs would get a "substantial" part of revenue offered for football players playing in ISL. At present, the range of football players' contracts vary from Rs 20 lakh ($33,000) to Rs 1.5 crore ($249,000) a year. While "upcoming domestic players are at the mid and lower level of the pyramid," established domestic players and foreign names are at the top of the pyramid. Each player "would get a premium over his stipulated salary of two-three months (duration of ISL tournament) from the franchises." A senior official at Mohun Bagan Club said, "This would provide some relief to the clubs' finances but what would be crucial of the league's success is what range of global players would actually come and play during the ISL" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 4/16).