Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bernie Ecclestone is Bluffing Montreal

It's doubtful that Bernie Ecclestone would ever need to embark on another career, but if he did, he should consider taking a seat at the World Series of Poker. Mr. Ecclestone has demonstrated that he is the world's greatest bluffer and has played for stakes that the most successful poker players in the world could only dream about.

A couple of years ago, the boss of Formula 1 racing persuaded an international conglomerate to buy out the majority of his business interest in Formula 1 racing for billions, when clearly the future indicated that the sport was tracking downward.

In a brawl with team owners this year, Bernie prevailed again, despite the fact that the teams were holding a royal flush and he was playing a busted straight. The dispute centered on the proposed imposition of a spending cap, which the richest and most successful teams rejected. They threatened to bolt and start their own racing circuit. Without the teams, Bernie and Formula 1 would be left holding an empty bag and it seemed, for a while at least, that the teams would opt for other arrangements.

It was not to be. Bernie, in a masterful example of bravado, faced down the threat with a compromise that left him firmly in control.

Yesterday he announced that Montreal would again be added to the racing schedule next year,

Trouble is, that it's news to Montreal Mayor Tremblay and his negotiating team.
Today they are scratching their collective head, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. According to them, no deal has been struck, even though they remain hopeful.

It's but another masterful negotiating ploy by Bernie, one meant to wring out more concessions from the City, as negotiations go down the final stretch.

Once Bernie announced that a deal was done (when in fact it wasn't) any failure would be conceived by the public as a failure of the part of the city, an outcome that Bernie understands would be politically unacceptable.

If Montreal is smart, they'd back off and demand concessions from Formula 1, instead of the other way around.

The race is coming back to Montreal, not because of anything the city has done or offered, but because pressure in being applied by the racing sponsors and teams.

Ferrari, the most powerful and influential team was furious with the elimination of Montreal as a venue. Sales of their cars in North America represent a big part of their business and the event in Montreal was as huge a celebration of the brand.

It may also be, that the return of racing to Montreal was one of the conditions demanded by the teams in accepting a compromise that left Bernie Ecclestone and his organization in charge.

The mayor and his negotiating team, should understand that it is they that are in the driver's seat. Let's hope that they understand their negotiating strength and call Bernie on his crappy poker hand.


1 comment:

  1. Editor;
    I wrote this piece last night. Today I woke up to the exact same story with the exact same angle on the front page of the Montreal Gazette.

    Do great minds think alike?