Friday, February 10, 2017
End of the road for Ecclestone as Liberty complete F1 takeover
Bernie Ecclestone's four-decade reign as the ruler of Formula One is over after American company Liberty Media completed its £6 billion purchase of the sport.
Chase Carey, who was already installed as the sport's chairman, replaces Ecclestone as chief executive officer.
Ecclestone, 86, has been handed the role of chairman emeritus, and will be available as a source to the new board, but he will no longer be involved in the day-to-day running of Formula One for the first time since the 1970s. .
"I'm proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula One, and would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with," Ecclestone said.
"I'm very pleased that the business has been acquired by Liberty and that it intends to invest in the future of F1. I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport."
Earlier in quotes carried by German publication Auto, Motor and Sport, Ecclestone appeared to suggest he had been forced out by the new owners.
He said: "I was deposed today. This is official, I do not run the company any more. My position has been taken by Chase Carey.
"My new position is one of those American terms -- it's something like an honorary president. I have this title now, even though I don't know what it means."
He added: "My days in the office will be getting quieter now. Maybe I will attend a grand prix sometime in the future. I still have many friends in Formula One and I still have enough money to afford to attend a race."
Ecclestone, who turns 87 in October, has ruled Formula One for 40 years. But American company Liberty has now put their own team in place after clearing the final hurdle of their purchase.
American Carey, the 21st Century Fox vice chairman, was installed as the new Formula One chairman when Liberty agreed to take control from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners last September.
Speaking to the Press Association last week, Ecclestone said of his future: "We will have to see how we set the company up.
"It is not a case of my terms, it is a case of let's have a look and see which way they would like to go.
"It is something that would have happened anyway. We need to put something together if I am not here because I have become deceased or something and it is about time we did that.
"We were in the middle [of that] and when we knew these people were probably going to buy we backed off and thought 'let's wait because they own the company and it is up to them to decide who or what they want'."
When Liberty bought an 18.7 percent stake from CVC in September, Ecclestone said the prospective new owners wanted him to stay on as chief executive for three years.
"That is what they asked for," Ecclestone added. "In fact we are going to try to put together people that can look after all the things I have been trying to find people to do, which is the sponsorship and things like that.
"As I said, let's see how we are going to operate."
Liberty, run by 75-year-old American John Malone -- given the nickname Darth Vadar for his hard-line approach -- is keen to expand Formula One in the United States, improve the sport's reach on social media, while safeguarding the future of its traditional venues.
Liberty's portfolio includes Virgin Media and baseball's Atlanta Braves. It also holds a large share of the Discovery Communications group.
On Wednesday last week, a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, which includes FIA president Jean Todt and Ecclestone, agreed to Liberty's purchase of Formula One, 24 hours after the company's shareholders gave the green light to press on with the deal.
"They [the FIA] didn't have any choice," Ecclestone added. "They had no way they could not approve, unless the people that were going to come in were bandits.
"The only reason we had the meeting is because we wanted changes to the FOM [Formula One Management] contract -- little changes -- and they were all approved. No dramas.
"I think that [the deal] should happen within the next three or four weeks."
Asked if he expected Liberty to be the sport's new owners in time for the start of the season in Melbourne on March 26, Ecclestone added: "Yes. Absolutely. One hundred percent."