LONDON Feb 12 Lotus Formula One chief Tony
Fernandes has ruled out investing in an English football club in
the near future following his failed attempt to buy West Ham
United last month.
The team principal of Lotus Racing has been linked with a
number of Premier League clubs, including cash-stricken
Portsmouth, and League One (third division) Norwich City.
The Malaysian businessman and founder of the AirAsia airline
was involved in negotiations to buy West Ham before the London
club was sold to former Birmingham City owners David Gold and
Asked on Friday if he was ruling out investing in English
football in the near future, Fernandes told Reuters: "Yes, I
"Everything happens for the best and maybe the best was not
for West Ham but to focus on motor racing for the moment."
Speaking at the launch of Lotus's car in London, Fernandes
recognised the danger in over-extending his commitments beyond
"There is always a danger (in spreading your resources too
thinly)," he said. "You have to pick the right time to do the
right things. I think there are huge opportunities in sport.
"It is going through a little state of flux and the easy
money is gone so sensible businessmen will come in and give
their money to the right places and monetise those assets."
Fernandes said there were still opportunities for investors
to profit from sport.
"People aren't getting tired of watching sport, it is just
the financial way it's been run that has caused the problems,"
"There is no lack of appetite for going to watch sport, in
fact I think it is probably the best time."
Lotus are one of four new teams joining Formula One for the
2010 season that gets underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix on
The Lotus brand is returning to the grid for the first time
since 1994 with drivers Jarno Trulli of Italy and Finn Heikki
Kovalainen behind the wheel.
The team are without a principal sponsor after Malaysian oil
company Petronas opted to back Mercedes.
Fernandes, though, is confident they can secure sufficient
finance and said the relationship between sponsors and Formula
One was changing.
"Today sponsors will see a real car," he said. "They will
see the enormous expenditure that we put out there.
"People have said to me today that ours was the biggest
launch of any car this season. That shows the power we have and
I am sure we will attract the right sort of people to come in
and support us.
"It is not just about putting stickers on the cars, there
are many other ways of getting revenue. We don't want to say too
much at the moment but we have other sponsors in the pipeline,"
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)