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Mon 31 Oct 2011 05:44 PM

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F1 supremo backs Qatar move for UK's Silverstone

Bernie Ecclestone said to be keen on Gulf state consortium taking over race track

F1 supremo backs Qatar move for UK's Silverstone
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (Getty Images)

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed plans for a Qatar-backed consortium to take control of Silverstone, the UK's iconic racing circuit, it was reported on Monday.

According to reports in the UK, the Alpha Group is in advanced talks which would see ownership of the legendary track sold for 150 years.

The media reports come just two months after Qatar Investment Authority denied being in talks to take over the home of the British Grand Prix.

Bernie Ecclestone said in comments published by ESPN's F1 website: "It's what Silverstone needs. "They need to let the professionals run it.

"The new owners will put proper people in, commercialise it and run it properly. They will get the job done. They won't muck around. Europe has got to understand that Europe will be sold to the Chinese or India or these people in the Middle East."

According to the report, the deal would see The Alpha Group pay an annual rent of around £2.5m, while taking on British Racing Drivers' Club debt of £23.5m and committing to spend at least £50m developing the circuit.

The final deal will have to be approved by the 850 members of the BRDC, it added.

Although Silverstone secured the right to stage the race until 2026, it has struggled to raise the funds needed to invest in a complete refurbishment of the facilities.

Qatar has an extensive portfolio of British assets. The wealth fund already counts luxury London department store Harrods and stakes in Barclays, retailer J Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange among its investments.

Qatari Diar, QIA’s property arm, in August announced it had won a bid to buy London’s Olympic Village in a £557m in a joint deal with the UK developer Delancey.

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