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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
New threat hits British GP
Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone is playing hardball with Silverstone over the Grand Prix
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has set Silverstone a deadline of the end of September to secure its position as the home of the British Grand Prix.

Ecclestone said in a statement he was still trying to find a promoter for the race, for which he owns the rights.

Silverstone is back under the control of owner the British Racing Drivers' Club, which had leased it to US marketing giant Interpublic.

But Ecclestone says there is no deal to host the British GP beyond 2004.

The statement said Ecclestone's company was "prepared to enter into an agreement with either the BRDC or another promoter for the British Grand Prix in 2005/6 on commercial terms matching those for the races in Germany.

"This remains our position. As yet, neither the BRDC or anybody else has stepped up to accept the offer.

"Such an agreement would need to be in place no later than 30 September 2004."

It is the latest in a series of stand-offs between Ecclestone and the BRDC over the future of the Grand Prix.

Ecclestone has been severely critical of Silverstone's facilities, which he says are badly outdated compared to other tracks on the calendar.

The BRDC says it would have to run the race at a loss if it paid Ecclestone's fees, and it is not prepared to risk its future just for the prestige of having the Grand Prix.

Ecclestone's offer of matching the German rates is designed to take the sting out of the BRDC's claim that it cannot afford the going rate for GP rights.

The BRDC complains that only national and local governments can realistically afford Ecclestone's rates, which are well over 10m per year.

By far the vast majority of Grands Prix - including those in Germany - are under-written in this way.

BRDC chairman Jackie Stewart has been in talks with the government about getting financial support for the Grand Prix but without any success so far.

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