Wednesday February 7th, 2001
A day after the FIA president Max Mosley has revealed that Bernie Ecclestone may lose the rights to Formula One's lucrative TV deals, Ecclestone himself reacted, accusing the FIA of "extortion."
Ecclestone's family trust, SLEC, currently holds F1's broadcasting and commercial rights until 2010, but in a deal made with the FIA last year the two agreed to extend these rights for 100 years, for an estimated sum of $360 million.
Ecclestone, who has run Formula One for the past 30 years, was given seven years to pay the money due, with Mosley yesterday claiming that the first payment, due on July last year, has not yet been paid.
However, Ecclestone last night rejected these claims and denied being late on payment.
According to British newspaper The Times, Ecclestone insists he has already made a payment of $50 million, but said that the FIA are running now into tax problems which in turn meant that he was not certain whether to pay into accounts in France, the UK or elsewhere.
"Max likes to argue more than I do," Ecclestone told the paper. "These reports are anything but true. Max has been trying to do some extortion. Maybe he has some problems with the tax authorities in France. He wants the money paid immediately, but he has no right to do that."
Mosley said yesterday that, "Mr Ecclestone must pay the sum by March 22nd or we may decide to make other arrangements." However, analysits in the sport now believe that the two already have an agreement between them, and that the public argument is merely intended to distract attention from the privately held agreement among the two.