F1 may be sold to Miami Dolphins owner and Qatar investors in £5bn deal

Bernie Ecclestone 2012 Bahrain

Formula One could be sold to the owner of the NFL team Miami Dolphins and investors in Qatar in a deal worth £5bn.

The sport’s great survivor, Bernie Ecclestone, who will be 85 this year, is unlikely to be going anywhere, however. Even though he would sell his 5% stake in the sport if the deal went ahead it is likely his services would be retained in the takeover. “They believe he brings a lot to the sport and they can help expand it into the US and Chinese markets,” said a source quoted in the Financial Times.

Contacts in the Middle East confirmed there was interest in Qatar and particularly from Qatar Sports Investments, the owners of Paris Saint-Germain. However, a source close to CVC Capital Partners, the sport’s owners, denied knowledge of the latest development in the troubled sport.

QSI is understood to be interested in a long-term partnership with Stephen Ross, the 75-year-old co-founder of RSE Ventures and the owner of the Dolphins. Ross wants to link up with QSI to buy F1 in a move that would transform the sport.

Reuters were also reporting that Dieter Hahn, chairman of the supervisory board of German sports marketing media group Constantin Medien is involved with the investment consortium. “The key to unlocking this deal is that under Bernie, F1 doesn’t do much TV rights marketing. Hahn will help with that,” a source told Reuters.

Ecclestone told the Financial Times his shares “will be sold” but there was “no deal on the table”. During the Austrian Grand Prix, Ecclestone was quoted as describing the sport he has ruled for four decades as “crap”. It was also in Spielberg last weekend that the Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, threatened to pull his team out of the sport, along with junior outfit Toro Rosso, unless things improved.

Mateschitz was merely reflecting the concerns of the entire paddock as attendances and many TV audiences have declined, and an increasing number of teams have found it difficult to find sponsors.

CVC has made an estimated £5bn profit from a sport with a turnover of £1.5bn but the teams have been angered by CVC’s reluctance to reinvest profits in F1 and, apart from the big names, the rest have struggled to keep going. with the exception of the big names all the leading outfits the rest of the teams have struggled to keep going.Bob Fernley, the deputy chief principal of Force India, told the Guardian that “CVC was the worst thing to ever happen to Formula One”.

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