Austin’s US grand prix set to be axed from 2012 F1 calendar

The first Formula One grand prix in the United States for five years is set to be pulled from the 2012 calendar after construction work at the venue ground to a halt, the championship’s rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone admitted on Wednesday.

Construction work at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, had been ongoing on the understanding that the hosting contract between Ecclestone and race promoter Full Throttle Productions would be passed to the new circuit. However, with work having ceased over doubts about the race contract, and with the State of Texas reportedly refusing to pay funds towards the development in advance of the event, the race looks certain to be cut from the schedule when International Motorsport Federation (FIA) members meet on December 7.

When asked whether the November 2012 race would be called off, Ecclestone told the Press Association: “Yes, it will be, for sure.” It emerged on Tuesday that more than 300 people at the venue in Austin had stopped construction work following the dispute. A statement from the Circuit of the Americas had earlier read: “Organisers of Circuit of the Americas, a premier motor sports racing and entertainment venue being developed in Austin, Texas, are suspending further construction of the project until a contract assuring the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix will be held at Circuit of the Americas in 2012 is complete.”

The statement added: “The race contract between Formula One and Circuit of the Americas has not been conveyed to Circuit of the Americas per a previously agreed upon timetable. While construction at Circuit of the Americas has progressed as scheduled with over 300 workers at the construction site daily, all work will suspend immediately. The delivery of the Formula One grand prix race contract will allow construction operations to resume.”

Bobby Epstein, a founding partner of the track, added: “We have spent tremendous resources preparing for the Formula One and MotoGP championship races, but the failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern. We believe the United States is vital for the future of Formula One and its teams and sponsors.” Indianapolis staged the last F1 race in the United States in 2007.

At the weekend, Tavo Hellmund, the individual behind Full Throttle Productions, said it was “the responsibility of the Circuit of the Americas to make this project happen before Mr Ecclestone’s patience runs out”. The 2012 race in Austin was due to be followed by a second of two new grands prix in the US, with a New Jersey race scheduled for 2013.

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Tottenham announces delisting plans

Barclays Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur has announced it is set to delist from the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange and return to private ownership in a bid to press ahead with a stadium project.

The proposal was revealed on Wednesday as the Barclays Premier League club reported record revenues for the 2010-11 season. UEFA Champions League participation enabled Tottenham’s financial results to record a rise in revenue of almost £44 million to £163.5 million, with operating profits increasing by 42% to £32.3 million. The effects of maintaining a playing squad capable of mixing with Europe’s best saw costs rise by 35% to £131.2 million, but the club was able to record a pre-tax profit of £400,000 for the year ending June 30 versus the previous year’s loss of £6.5 million.

The North London club’s intention to delist being interpreted as a strong sign it is focusing its efforts on the Northumberland Park development next to White Hart Lane following its defeat in the Olympic Stadium bid. The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) was last month instructed to start a new process to secure tenants for the Olympic Stadium post-London 2012 after February’s original decision to award the stadium to West Ham United sparked legal challenges from Tottenham and third tier team Leyton Orient.

Tottenham had sought a judicial review in the belief that a £40 million loan from Newham Council gave West Ham an unfair economic advantage and made the original decision unlawful. Tottenham reportedly needs to raise £300-£350 million to build the new 60,000-seat stadium at Northumberland Park, and chairman Daniel Levy believes borrowing money will be easier if the club is privately owned. The club’s majority owners ENIC will now propose the club’s delisting at Tottenham’s AGM on December 13.

“It is clear to us that increasing the capacity of the club’s stadium is a key factor in the continued development and success of the club and will involve the company in considerable additional capital expenditure,” said Levy. “Given this requirement, we believe that the AIM listing restricts our ability to secure funding for its future development. We are ambitious for the club and have always taken the steps that we believe to be in its best interests.”

Well done Norwich & Aviva.

Norwich City FC are not known for their trend setting but they may have started one as they have changed their shirt sponsorship for one game becoming the first team in the Premier League to do so.

A logo for the Railway Children charity will replace Aviva on the front of the Canaries’ shirts for Saturday’s clash against Arsenal, which is being televised live on Sky Sports.

City Chief Executive David McNally said: “Norwich City are delighted to support Aviva’s charity partnership with Railway Children. It is a great opportunity for our fans to show their support and to raise the profile of such an important cause.”

This is the fourth year that Aviva has given away its Norwich City shirt sponsorship to charities.

This year’s sponsorship marks the continuation of Aviva’s commitment to its chosen national charity, Railway Children, which helps raise awareness of the fact that every year in the UK an estimated 100,000 young people under the age of 16 run away from home.

Aviva’s work with Railway Children is part of its five-year global ‘Street to School’ programme to raise awareness and support for children living and working on the streets around the world.

Terina Keene, Railway Children, Chief Executive said: “It’s a chilling fact that every year in the UK 100,000 young people under the age of 16 run away from home.

“Having survived a difficult home environment, many young runaways have lost their trust in adults and see the streets as their only alternative if they feel they cannot live at home any longer. Faced with limited choices and not knowing where to turn, many end up living alone on the streets, where they are at risk of violence, sexual abuse and drug or alcohol dependency.

“We fight for children living on the streets everyday, and we are delighted that Norwich City, through our partners Aviva, have embraced Railway Children and our cause so wholeheartedly. This game will provide a much needed boost to Railway Children’s work across the UK, by raising awareness of the issue, as well as much-needed funds.”

Anne Filatotchev, marketing director, Aviva UK added: “Aviva works with Railway Children to raise awareness about the issue of young runaways. With the high profile nature of our Norwich City sponsorship and of Barclays Premier League football in general, we have the perfect opportunity to raise awareness nationally of the important work this charity does.”

Manchester United reveal improved financial results

Manchester United today revealed their financial report for the first quarter of fiscal year ending June 2012 with a 16.6 per cent increase in total turnover.

The report measured the finances of the three months ending on September 30 2011.

Gross outstanding debt has also decreased from £516.7m ($819.3m) as of September 30, 2010, to £433.2m ($687m) on September 30, 2011.

Total turnover for the Red Football Group (holding company of Manchester United) during the three month period was up £10.5m ($16.6m) year-on-year from £63.3m ($100.5m) to £73.8m ($117m).

The figure included matchday revenue up 16.6 per cent from £19.7m ($31.2m) to £21.6m ($34.2m); media revenues up 16.5 per cent from £19.4m ($30.7m) to £22.6m ($35.8m) and commercial revenues up 22.3 per cent from £24.2m ($38.3m) to £29.6m ($49.6m).

However, total operating costs also increased year-on-year from £48.4m ($76.7m) to £54.5m ($86.4m).

The group said its commercial performance represented a “strong statement” of its financial position, with net assets of £804.8m ($1.27bn) and a cash balance of £65m ($103m).

The total spend on players during the period was up year-on-year from £8.2m ($13m) to £47.1m ($74.6m), with general capital expenditure up from £3.7m ($5.86m) to £13.8m ($21.8m).

The group recently earned approval for a partial flotation on the Singapore stock exchange.

Delayed as a result of the uncertain financial markets, the flotation is still expected to take place before the end of the year.

Approval for Wolves £50m development and training facility

Plans to build a world-class football training facility for Wolverhampton Wanderers, plus a new secondary school and homes at a total of £50 million, have been approved.
Redrow boss and Wolves chairman Steve Morgan brokered the complex scheme that will see his football club get a new training academy, the city a new school and Redrow Homes build 55 four and five-bedroom luxury houses.

Athletics to use London Olympics stadium ‘for up to 99 years’

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has claimed the London’s Olympics stadium will be used for athletics purposes after next year’s summer games for up to 99 years.
That means that West Ham United – or any other tenant at the stadium, whether it is a football club or not – will have to comply with any major athletics event, with the running track guaranteed to remain for the duration of the 99-year lease.
The news comes as a major boost for UK Athletics given the controversy surrounding the future of the Olympic Stadium beyond 2012, and also means that the use of the stadium is guaranteed at any potential World Championships in 2017

New Spurs training ground gets go-ahead

Tottenham Hotspur’s new training ground is currently under construction, and on schedule for completion by the beginning of next season.
The ground covers 67 acres, which include 11 pitches and an impressive training centre designed by KSS Architects, featuring curved steel sections fabricated by Barnshaws Section Benders. Designed around a 70 x 50m indoor artificial pitch, the training centre will feature a transparent ETFE roof, and will act as an integral part of the landscape.
The centre will contain state of the art facilities, such as a gym, media centre, medical facilities, hydrotherapy/ swimming pool, and a learning centre.