Team New Zealand Accused Of 'Corporate Blackmail' By Former Director
A former Team New Zealand director "condemned management of the Kiwi syndicate for appearing to extort America's Cup hosting fees out of the New Zealand tax-payer," according to the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. James Farmer, who served as a director of Team NZ from '07-13, believes Team NZ's attempts to get Auckland to pay a hosting fee for the '21 event "in the wake of big money offers" from Abu Dhabi or Russia has the appearance of "corporate blackmail." It was reported last month that Team NZ had received offers of up to $80M from offshore locations seeking to host the Cup. In a column published on his legal website, Farmer wrote it was a "bad look" for Team NZ, which built its campaign around bringing the Cup "home." Farmer: "It would be helpful and in their own interests in retaining public support if they came out in the open right now and said that this is not a possibility. The failure to make a public statement to that effect will, even to people who believe that it is inconceivable that Team NZ would do so, look rather like corporate blackmail aimed at the Government: 'Pay us a hosting fee or we will go elsewhere.'" Farmer cast doubt on whether it was "even legal for Team NZ to take the event to Abu Dhabi or Russia given the contractual arrangements already in place" with challenger of record Luna Rossa (NZ HERALD, 12/5). STUFF reported Auckland Council needs to confirm by the end of August if it is "willing and able to host the regatta." Farmer said that the speculation "should end now." He said, "It would seem likely that the Government and the [Auckland] Council will find the funds for the infrastructure. That will be sufficient to ensure the Cup is held here and avoid what we have been told is the contractual obligation to move the Event to Italy if the infrastructure cannot be established" (STUFF, 12/5).