Okay, just say it…Logogate!

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With all the political wrangling and contract development/negotiations, you have to wonder how FOM/CVC boss Bernie Ecclestone may have missed the track-side advertising issue that has been brewing into a bit of a row over the last several weeks.

It seems the track-side advertising rights were sold, by Ecclestone, to APM organisation (Allsport parent company Allsopp Parker & Marsh). They have apparently requested that the teams remove their sponsors logos in the pit and paddock area as those rights belong to them. You can imagine this is a big issue for everyone involved and so FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh has weighed in. AUTOSPORT‘s Mr. Noble so aptly carries the story follow-up.

“There is a difference of opinion,” said Whitmarsh when asked by AUTOSPORT about the situation. “Everyone has taken a pretty sensible view on it. We all know that we have to find an accommodation, and you are not always going to agree.

“I think that the teams feel that what they have doing is fairly reasonable, but I think we also have to respect that FOM is out there trying to sell circuit signage. And it is in our interests that FOM does the best job it can.”

If you are Vodafone or HP or AT&T, you’d be a bit perplexed if the team you puchased sponsorship space for removed your logo’s from the race weekend. Then again, if the team never had the right to sell you the space and made promises they were not legally qualified to make, that is another issue.

If you are Allsport (APM), you are protecting what rightfully is yours through contract. That is if your agreement says that you have the right to all advertising space during a grand prix weekend. It leaves me a tad stumped as I cannot imagine that the contract says that Allsport’s rights extend to team hoardings, trucks and paraphernalia in the pit and paddock area but I imagine there is some verbiage to that affect or else they are seriously overstepping their legal bounds.

Without seeing the contract, it’s difficult to know who is culpable in this matter but the wording must be grey enough to create confusion and Eccelstone has been fairly quiet (publicly) on the whole issue leaving FOTA to face the legality issue in the press. Either way, Ecclestone is involved whether he says he is or not. Allsport could attempt to seek a legal precedent that would force teams to comply but that would devour any money they would make advertising in the pit and paddock.

What seems more likely is some sort of profit sharing with the teams based upon the fees sponsors pay to have their logos displayed in the pit and paddock area as well as the trucks and haulers. In this, I can see a bit of a land-grab if I’m honest. Allsport sees logos and sponsors and wants the teams to pay them a percentage of the royalties for the privilege. THat’s a complete, uneducated hunch on my part because I haven’t seen the contract but I suspect the low-hanging fruit is where Allsport will go instead of legally battling each team for their rights.

Makes one wonder just how friendly the 2013 Concorde Agreement negotiations are going to be and Ecclestone doesn’t have the bravado of Max Mosley to throw around when he needs an FIA threat or two to get the locals in line. I suspect current FIA president JeanTodt may not be quite as easy to persuade.


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