Potential F1 bid faces major problems - Eddie Jordan

Eddie Jordan has said that a possible bid from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take control of Formula 1 would face major problems at present.

Jordan says teams would want long-term income assurances if the sport was taken off free-to air TV, which the European Union currently guarantees.

"Until that happens I feel this is just a little bit of posturing," he told the BBC, for whom he now acts as a pundit.

Jordan also stressed that a new, post-2012 Concorde Agreement is critical.

Though News Corporation and Italian investment firm Exor - who are linked to Ferrari - revealed they were working on a potential bid to buy F1  , they did admit in a joint statement that "there can be no certainty this will lead to an approach to its current owners".

Its current owner CVC Capital Partners - which paid £1.8bn to buy F1 in 2006 - has insisted the sport is not "for sale".

Any takeover would involve changes to the Concorde Agreement, a commercial arrangement involving the racing teams, CVC and the sport's governing body, the FIA.

This agreement says that, in countries with the biggest audiences, F1 must not only be shown on pay television, though the current agreement runs out at the end of 2012 and the signatories are in the process of negotiating a new one.

The BBC has the UK broadcasting rights to F1 until 2013. The television companies controlled by News Corp are not currently free-to-air.

Analysis

The current Concorde Agreement is to some degree open to interpretation on the subject of whether Formula 1 has to be shown on free-to-air television in major markets, such as the UK. But BBC Sport understands that there is a requirement that F1 is not only shown on pay TV.

The Concorde Agreement runs until the end of 2012 and teams are embarking on negotiations with the commercial rights holders (CVC) and governing body the FIA concerning a new one. They have not yet addressed the issue of whether the free-to-air clause would remain in the agreement.

But they would be very concerned about the prospect of F1 being shown only on pay TV in countries with a large audience. That's because any such move would dramatically reduce audience reach, and therefore teams' ability to sell sponsorship at anything like current rates.

"I'm still concerned as to how it [a potential bid] can become effectual," said Jordan, who used to manage his own F1 team, Jordan.

"The EU has been promised by [commercial rights holder] Bernie Ecclestone in the past, and in the Concorde Agreement, that everything on TV - on the BBC - would be free-to-air.

"If News Corp can find a way around that, then possibly I'll take this more seriously.

"[Also] there is no Concorde Agreement after 2012. That needs to be negotiated, because you'd have to say [to] the future purchasers: what are they actually buying? What rights do they have?

"If there was [a new Concorde Agreement in place], then of course you have a real value.

"If I was a team [boss], then I'd be looking to see where the revenues are coming from. The public and sponsors want the maximum number of people watching the race.

"The highest thing in the minds of the teams is income - because without that they've got nothing. The second thing is that income is derived from a couple of places, [and] sponsorship is one of them.

"There is not a commercial operation in F1 at this moment who can disregard the numbers of viewers, because that's what triggers the costs and also the income."

Last month Ecclestone, who runs F1 on behalf of CVC, dismissed as "rubbish" reports that News Corporation was in talks with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who sponsors the Sauber team, about buying F1.

And on Tuesday the 80-year-old questioned the likelihood of a News Corp bid succeeding.

"Personally, I know CVC don't want to sell, so it's going to be a bit difficult," he said. "I can see CVC in for the long haul, 100%."