It was apparently the eminent American essayist H.L. Mencken who famously wrote “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people …” and in the time-honoured tradition of P.T. Barnham, it is a fact that big business bucks, greed and questionable moral attitudes and tactics have always gone hand in hand with successful elite sport.
Currently, of course, the iniquities of corrupt practice from bribery upwards to in-built lack of accountability – real, alleged, imagined, suspected, proved and even so far undetected – within the International Olympic Committee and soccer’s world governing body FIFA are never far from the headlines.
The world of Formula One – the supposed pinnacle of motor racing, certainly in business terms – is never far behind. Its central figure, Bernie Ecclestone, now in his eighties, still dominates every aspect of it, even in the 21st Century when huge organisations ranging from motor manufacturers to venture capitalists are involved. Ecclestone occupies a strange and unique position, often being acknowledged by insiders as a complete law unto himself, and yet at the same time few will dare to criticise him or his business methods. For public consumption, including in media interviews, he is always effectively referred in reverential terms, almost affectionately but resignedly, as “our Bernie” – a quasi-Godfather figure without whom (it is hinted) the world of Formula One would not go around. The suspicion that – as long as the Formula One ‘golden goose’ continues to lays its profitable eggs for all involved – Ecclestone’s pre-eminent position remains unassailable, is inescapable.
And so the Formula One circus continues on its merry way.
Here’s a link to an article on the website of The Independent today, regarding Ecclestone’s latest ‘scrape’ with the outside world – ECCLESTONE COURT CASE