Bernie wants ‘long-term’ deal

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

WHERE ENGLISH FOOT­BALL is con­cerned, it’s the year we’ll re­mem­ber for Ice­land, the ‘Huh’, and the ig­nominy of that night in Nice, though be­fore we reach too many con­clu­sions about the na­tional team’s ir­rel­e­vance, con­sider the TV rat­ings.

That match on the French Riviera re­mains the most watched pro­gramme of 2016, from which only 298 peo­ple tuned out.

Then com­pare the Ar­gen­tinian view­ing pub­lic, dur­ing the 3-0 de­feat to Brazil which left qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2018 World Cup look­ing like a stretch.

At half­time, with their team trail­ing 2-0, mil­lions in that foot­ball ob­sessed coun­try switched chan­nels to watch the last episode of a Brazil­ian mini-se­ries called ‘Moses and the Ten Plagues.’

Though the 3-0 win over Colom­bia in Buenos Aires last Tues­day im­proved the pic­ture slightly, the night ended with the far­ci­cal spec­ta­cle of the en­tire team stand­ing, po-faced and arms folded, on a plat­form be­hind Lionel Messi, as he de­clared through a mi­cro­phone that, be­cause of a ra­dio re­port that Eze­quiel Lavezzi had smoked mar­i­juana – which the player de­nies – “we have de­cided not to speak any more with the press. Get­ting into some­one’s per­sonal space is very grave.”

Eng­land are cer­tainly well ahead of this na­tion in the pop­u­lar­ity stakes. Though there’s some­thing in the char­ac­ter­is­tic swag­ger of the Al­bice­leste which makes other South Amer­i­cans al­ways des­per­ate to beat them, it’s far more bit­ter than sweet be­tween the play­ers and their pub­lic, too.

The mass over­seas ex­o­dus of the best tal­ent lies at the heart of it. “When the na­tional team is play­ing we feel like a First World coun­try,” brag­gado­cio An­gels with Dirty Faces’, FOR­MULA ONE supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone said he wants to strike a “long-term” deal with Sin­ga­pore this year, play­ing down ear­lier com­ments that the city-state is look­ing to drop its iconic night race.

Ec­cle­stone’s lat­est state­ment pro­vide some pos­i­tive news for For­mula One in South­east Asia, af­ter neigh­bour­ing Malaysia con­firmed it was drop­ping its grand prix af­ter 2018.

He claimed his ini­tial com­ments had been taken “in a funny way” by a Ger­man auto magazine which quoted him as say­ing that Sin­ga­pore no longer wanted to host For­mula One.

“F1’s stand is to hope­fully con­tinue in Sin­ga­pore,” the 86year-old told Sin­ga­pore’s Straits Times news­pa­per. “Ev­ery­body is happy to be in Sin­ga­pore and (we) don’t want to lose Sin­ga­pore.

“Ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing and will be sorted out shortly... be­fore the end of the year, I’m sure. We want to ex­tend long-term. We’ll see what hap­pens.”

Ec­cle­stone has de­scribed For­mula One’s first night race, which started in 2008 and snakes past Sin­ga­pore land­marks, as a “crown jewel” of the sport. Barcelona team­mates Ney­mar (left) and Lionel Messi in ac­tion dur­ing the Brazil vs Ar­gentina World Cup qual­ifer re­cently where Brazil won 3-0.

But Ger­many’s Auto Mo­tor Und Sport quoted him as say­ing that Sin­ga­pore wasn’t look­ing to re­new its cur­rent con­tract, which will ex­pire af­ter next year’s race.

“Yes, the grand prix has cost Sin­ga­pore a lot of money, but we’ve also given them a lot of money. Sin­ga­pore was sud­denly more than just an air­port to fly to or from some­where,” Ec­cle­stone was quoted as say­ing.

“Now, they be­lieve they have reached their goal and they do not want a grand prix any more,” he added, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

When con­tacted by AFP, a Sin­ga­pore GP spokesper­son said: “We don’t com­ment on on­go­ing com­mer­cial ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Sin­ga­pore’s 23-turn, Ma­rina Bay street cir­cuit is seen as one of the most chal­leng­ing on the cal­en­dar and has proved pop­u­lar with fans.

But or­gan­is­ers said a slow­ing eco­nomic cli­mate has seen daily at­ten­dance slump to 73,000 this year from 87,000 in 2015.

On Mon­day, Malaysia con­firmed it was pulling out of F1 af­ter 2018 due to fall­ing rev­enue and a lack of in­ter­est, end­ing one of Asia’s long­est-run­ning races. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.