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Ecclestone made Melbourne a deal they rejected
Bernie Ecclestone tried to lump Victoria with a watered-down Grand Prix contract that would have cost taxpayers more and robbed the state of unique Melbourne branding beamed to the world.

Melbourne’s Grand Prix almost came to a screeching end last year, the Herald Sun can reveal, when the billionaire British businessman tried to force a deal that would have removed sweetheart conditions written into the Albert Park contract.

Mr. Ecclestone tried to get Melbourne to sign up to a "global contract" with standardized conditions in line with other F1 races throughout the world, considered a "deal-breaker" by Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker, who took several months to broker a different deal.

The initial offer to extend Melbourne’s contract could have seen unique "Melbourne" branding removed from the circuit, and profits from corporate and VIP areas paid to Formula One management in London instead of Victoria.

Mr. Walker said a revised contract approved by the Grand Prix Corporation board, and now being considered by the State Government, was a "very fair and reasonable offer for the taxpayer".

"Mr. Ecclestone wanted to create a new global contract for everybody, wanted it standardized," he said.

"We’ve enjoyed privileges that nobody else has in the 19 years we’ve had the contract.

"He wanted to adjust those in accordance with what he charges everybody else, which was a deal-breaker as far as we were concerned."

Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott said the deal initially offered by Mr. Ecclestone would have put support categories, such as popular V8 racing, automotive displays and the profits of corporate hospitality in jeopardy.

"The ability for us to sell corporate hospitality is a right that Victoria's Grand Prix has that not many other circuits have," he said.

"In all the European circuits the revenues for the Paddock Club go to Formula One but in Melbourne they go to us and therefore jobs for Victorian companies, and those are the rights that we want to retain." news.com.au

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