Figures deny Melbourne GP to move

Thu, 8 November 2007, 09:17

Leading figures on Thursday played down reports that the Australian grand prix could be moved from Melbourne’s Albert Park to a nearby famous horse racing venue.

The television network Nine this week said promoter Ron Walker had met with Bernie Ecclestone in London and floated the idea of moving the race to Flemington Racecourse, the home of the world-renowned Melbourne Cup, to cut rising annual costs.

But a spokesman for the Victoria Racing Club, which controls the 1.27 square kilometres of land at Flemington, slammed the suggestion as a “fanciful idea not even worth considering”.

The Club’s public relations manager Amber Sheldon, meanwhile, dismissed the reports as “absolute nonsense” in conversation with the Melbourne newspaper The Age.

“There has been no discussion and there’s no truth to it at all. It’s ridiculous to say it’s a possibility as there hasn’t been any talking,” she added.

Separate spokesmen representing Walker and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Victorian state premier John Brumby said the government was not aware of the plans.

Brumby told the Brisbane Times: “There hasn’t been discussions and I’m not going to pre-empt those in any way, shape or form or offer a personal opinion on that.”

Brumby, whose government inherited the grand prix from its predecessors but continues to finance shortfalls, said the Albert Park event had never generated a profit.

“It’s gone from a loss of (AUD) $1.7 million (in 1996) to a loss of $35m.

“I’ve made it clear I think it’s a great event for Victoria, but the costs of it have continued to increase, so if we’re to keep the event in the future, we’ve got to address some of those cost issues,” he added.

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