After the report mid week about Liberty’s take over of F1’s commercial rights being accepted it is now coming out that Bernie Ecclestone may step down from his role as early as next week.
With Liberty expected to have majority control over the commercial rights within the next few months the original talk was of Ecclestone taking an advisory role such as life president to help with the transitional period.
However it is now being reported in a Sky News article that Liberty want to take the sport in a different direction and to help with this new era want to have their own personal in place when the take over completes. It has also been mentioned that an announcement may come as early as next week.
The report also mentions that Sean Bratches, a former ESPN executive, is the front runner to take over the commercial side of things while former Ferrari team boss Ross Brawn is expected to take on a key role overseeing the sporting side of the sport.
Liberty Media is also planning to shake up some of its own initial plans including giving teams the options to opt into shares within Delta Topco, the holding company for the commercial rights, in a further attempt to bring greater security between the teams and the sports that depends on them. The sticking point for some teams at this time is the 10 year long tie in for buying shares, possibly due to the uncertainty of the economy in future.
Liberty also have plans to look at expanding the calender to a possible 25 races per year with extra races in the US where they have many contacts available to promote on ‘Super Bowl’ levels to look at attracting new sponsors to the sport. The company was said to be surprised by the ‘comparatively undeveloped approach to exploiting its commercial rights compared to other global sports franchises.’
If Ecclestone was to step down it would see an end to over four decades of him in power since he created the Formula One Contractor’s Association (FOCA) in 1974. The 86 year old has always been seen as the ‘supremo’ of the sport due to his control of the commercial rights, will a full step down be a good choice for Bernie, Liberty and F1 as a whole? Or would a gradual step down to allow Eccelstone to give his years of knowledge in regards to F1’s inner workings be a more beneficial long term approach? We shall see in due course but one thing is for sure, F1 would not be as it is now without Ecclestone’s input.
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