Silverstone bosses say Welsh circuit bid is unfair and ‘illegal’

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Silverstone bosses have written to the Prime Minister after fears millions of state money could be spent on a rival motor racing circuit in a remote area of Wales.

Heads of the Valleys Company is seeking for £30 million of funding from the Welsh Assembly to build a track in Blaenau Gwent near Ebbw Vale.

But in a statement released by the company which runs the Northamptonshire race track, it is claimed funding would give the Circuit of Wales an unfair advantage, when competing against private racetracks like Silverstone and Brands Hatch.

Silverstone Circuits Limited has written to David Cameron, requesting confirmation that the UK government is not considering financial support for the project.

The statement reads: “Silverstone has been advised that an injection of funds by the Welsh and/or UK governments to the Circuit of Wales project could amount to illegal state aid, as a transfer of state resources would give Circuit of Wales an economic and selective advantage over other circuits.

“There are currently a number of well established, privately funded circuits in the UK, including Wales, that feel that the British motor sport industry would be threatened by the addition of a government funded circuit.”

Silverstone Circuits added that it is “fully supportive” of regeneration projects.”

But when the company, headed up by managing director Richard Phillips, was looking for financial support from the Government to keep the British Grand Prix in Northamptonshire - its application was denied on the basis such a bid would be classed as ‘illegal state aid’.

In the absence of such aid, Silverstone had to sell off assets to ensure it kept the biggest event in the UK motor racing calender.

Heads of the Valleys believes the project is worthy of state funding because it would regenerate an area of Wales. It has pledged £2million in grants to the nearby community around Ebbw Vale.

However Silverstone bosses have called the scheme ‘unviable’.

“Silverstone reiterates that it is sympathetic to the economic situation in Ebbw Vale,” today’s statement goes on to say. “But motor sport at circuit level is not particularly profitable and is often loss making. Many UK circuits are under-utilised and struggle for revenue. It is unrealistic to suggest Circuit of Wales will be the exception.”