Greece’ing The Wheels
A very strange story sprung up today: Greece wants to build a Formula One capable circuit. According to project manager, “the project is estimated to cost 94 million euros ($135 million) and is to be partly subsidised by the Greek state. The completion date is estimated at three years.” Having a Formula One capable circuit is one thing, actually getting to host one is another and it’s difficult to think of Greece as a market that Bernie Ecclestone would want to expand into.
Yet that all still ignores the state of the economy in Greece, currently the byword for how bad the economy could just get. On the same day that the story has been circulating, Athens has been beset by violent protests as thousands marched through the city in protest at government austerity measures. Many Greeks are angry over job losses, tax rises and pension and wage cuts, enforced by the government to meet the terms of an international bail-out. A bail-out that many believe has not worked. There is growing speculation that the government may need a further international loan, speculation that has set the value of the Euro falling. So will the government be able to justify spending $40-million, the estimated state subsidy? Don’t ask silly questions – the environmental lobby alone has been sufficient to stop previous plans!
So it’s just another GMM-anomaly then? A meaningless story with the fall-back position that the project must still be approved by parliament, “so it’s not our fault if it doesn’t come true.” Oddly, rumours of Greek Formula One ambitions circulate now-and-then. Last time it wasn’t long after Turkey slipped up and put Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on the podium and billed him as “the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” – an insult aimed squarely at Greece.
Now we have Turkey’s Grand Prix ready to be dropped as its government baulks at the increased hosting fee. Of course there are unlikely to be any legs to the Greek rumours (did I mention that it is an utterly, utterly ridiculous idea?) but could it be designed to provide a little extra motivation for the Turkish government to get their wallet out?