Rally GB decision set for Wednesday
The future of Rally Great Britain is set to be decided on Wednesday at the MSA's Annual General Meeting in Colnbrook.
The board of British motorsport's governing body is expected to make a decision on whether it will fund this year's Rally Great Britain following the loss of backing from the Welsh Assembly Government for the October event. The WAG last week made a statement confirming its position regarding the Cardiff-based event, stating that its contract with Rally Great Britain is terminated and even if the rally is confirmed on the 2010 World Rally Championship calendar – as is expected at the FIA's World Council meeting on June 24 – that position will not alter.
International Motor Sports, the commercial arm of Rally GB, remains insistent that the expected confirmation of Rally GB's place on the 2010 calendar will leave the WAG no option but to continue the £2.2m per year deal for the next three years.
The WAG statement said: "Repeated promises were made by IMS over a very long period that the FIA might reverse its decision. Eventually, the Assembly Government had to draw a line and did so by terminating the contract – something which IMS clearly recognized the Assembly Government was perfectly entitled to do.
"That termination took place several months ago and the contract has long since therefore come to an end. As matters presently stand, the Wales Rally GB remains a biennial event rather than the annual event which the Assembly Government expressly agreed to sponsor under the contract.
"Even if the Wales Rally GB were now to revert to being an annual event, the fact is that the contract has now come to an end. The Assembly Government has acted entirely within its legal rights and at all times in the best interests of Wales."
It had been hoped that Peter Hain's return to the cabinet for a second stint as Welsh Secretary would help bring resolution between Rally GB and the WAG, but it appears not to have had any impact on the WAG position.
In April, the MP for Neath spoke out against the WAG's decision to terminate its five-year deal with Rally GB three years early. Hain has subsequently become a front-line campaigner for the reinstatement of the contract which would return Britain's round of the WRC to Wales until the end of 2011.
Andrew Coe, chief executive of Rally GB, said: "We have an agreement moving forward that sees the world's spotlight very much on Wales. As from the outset of our agreement with WAG, we continue to deliver on our promises of a landmark event that brings significant investment into the country, estimated to be at least £10 million per annum from public funding of £2 million ($3.2m).
"By any measure this investment represents good value for money and supports many businesses and jobs in Wales. Wales is committed to delivering internationally-significant events to raise its profile on the international stage. We understand this and have worked consistently to make WRGB a world leader. The significance of the event is widely recognized by the Welsh public, the Welsh business community as well as the many local communities and charitable institutions who benefit annually from this event.
"We have a five-year contract to deliver WRGB and we are committed, passionately, to making it happen."