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RAK and Roll


RAK and Roll

Today is the day all the America’s Cup litigation might come to end.  Or not.  Either way, there’s a lot of open ended questions at the moment.

After SNG won the America’s Cup in 2003, America’s Cup Management shopped the world for a venue.  They made a deal with Portugal, under the auspices of Patrick de Barros.  Then suddenly there was no deal, and Valencia hosted the 2007 Cup.   This year SNG makes a deal with RAK to host the 33rd Cup, announced with a lot of fanfare.  RAK reportedly spent $120 million to build the facilities for this Cup.  Of course, the New York Court recently ruled that RAK was not Deed compliant.  Along the way, a sex scandal with the ruler of RAK is revealed.  Safe to say, the America’s Cup has been a PR nightmare for an emirate that was promised nothing but glowing global press.  Now, SNG has announced, in the vaguest of terms that some lucky city on the east coast of Australia will host the next Cup.  But they are also appealing the decision on RAK.  So, if you were a city in Australia, how much can you believe about anything that SNG is going to say to you about their promise to have you play host to the next Cup?

Does anyone else see a pattern here?  SNG seems to like to make agreements with entire nations, or announce their participation without even talking to them, and then back out of the deal.  Maybe the Cup will go to Australia.  Or maybe not.

If you were the ruler of RAK, or a neighboring member of the UAE, what do you think your reaction would be to all of this?  What about the loss of face, to say nothing of money?  Do you just let SNG get away with making your country and region, under your leadership, look like a complete fool on the global stage?

What leverage do you have over SNG?  How about the fact that their boat and equipment is still in your country?  If you had spent $120 million on facilities to host the America’s Cup, and the magic carpet had been pulled out from under you, wouldn’t you want to extract your pound of flesh from the richest guy in Switzerland?  So, what’s that worth?  At least $120 million, plus.  So, what’s SNG going to do?  Pay up in cash, or agree to race somewhere else in the UAE?  If you were some city in Australia, don’t you think you’d be considering the consequences of what SNG has to face with RAK before you did a deal with them? 

RAK and roll.  Or is it more like Lock and Load?