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When I go back into England and I go through Heathrow airport, I'm ashamed to be English.
Quotes of the week
McLaren boss Ron Dennis has stated he is "ashamed to be English" after witnessing Valencia successfully stage the European Grand Prix.
Spain's third largest city made its Formula One debut at the weekend, and in many respects did not let down supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The circuit weaved through the marina and port which last year was home to yachting's America's Cup, although as with any 'street' track, overtaking areas were at a premium.
The event was not totally faultless, and it lacked the glitz and glamour of Monaco, while there were few defining landmarks other than the bridge amid the blur of concrete walls and wire fencing which lined the circuit.
It was too much to expect such a new track to be entirely faultless, but the problems were minor, doing Valencia proud 19 months after they staged a lavish £2million launch of McLaren's car for the 2007 season.
Launching an unexpected attack on England's failings in hosting major sporting events, Dennis said: "I have to say something a little controversial which I'll probably regret.
"When I go back into England and I go through Heathrow airport, I'm ashamed to be English.
"Valencia is an area that is not the gateway to their country, and yet the local government showed vision to stage the America's Cup, to commit all the resources they did to turn it into a world-class venue.
"We also know how they embraced the concept of us launching our car there.
"They made available to us all the facilities that exist in the arts and science park, contributed to the venue, and we were a catalyst to the grand prix.
"To see what they've done demonstrates what you can do if you are committed as a government, local or national."
Dennis feels London could learn a lesson or two from Valencia when it comes to overwhelming support to push forward projects, and to turn run-down areas of the city into futuristic places to be proud of.
With London now counting down towards its staging of the Olympic Games in 2012, Dennis added: "Valencia is a testament to how you should do it.
"I applaud the efforts of Valencia. They've gone the right way about it, they've committed to putting in the infrastructure, to getting the resources right.
"Next year they just need to put in some more colour, the harbour needs to be full of boats, more signage and a bit more glitz, but they've got it the right way round.
"I'll be absolutely amazed if we don't go to Singapore and have the same experience next month. This is what it takes.
"It requires government support, and to me it is a textbook example of what you can do if you all point in the same direction and have the commitment.
"For me I can't understand the ridiculous squabble we are having in England over the issue of relatively small amount of money with regard to the funding of the Olympic Games.
"We should be proud we've got the Olympic Games, and we should be pushing and reflecting in attitude the efforts of all the people who went there and surpassed everybody's expectation with regard to the medals our country have won.
"Unfortunately, we seem to be the world's best at turning around and being unconstructively critical.
"I know stories will be written with my comments, but I don't care.
"I think people should speak out and say, 'You guys have got it all wrong'."
london is so much cooler than valencia. Ive lived in the two cities and im only 15 and i prefer london than valencia. Its kind of boring in valencia and london is so fun and theres so much going on. (When I say London i mean the centre as well as the cities or towns nearby) Maybe if you are an adult you might prefer valencia but for me spain is a bit boring sometimes with old traditions and not much to do.
Posted 12:40 27th August 2008
Ron is obviously making a statement to stimulate debate, his obviously not ashamed to be English but he does raise an interesting point, although we all claim to be patriotic why is it so hard to get public money spent on sport. We worship our sports stars yet we don't invest in fledgling and grass roots facilities, as a huge F1 fan i find it unbelievable that after silverstone we may never host a Grand Prix again, what really are the chances of getting donny park up to scratch? This is more of an opportunity for Bernie to say to the Brits "well you had your chance and blew it!" With just some government backing combined with private investment with a real want and belief Silverstone could have retained the GP and we could have had a superb facility for all to enjoy, any investment in any sport is not just for the elite, it is for everyone. Silverstone for example would benefit Kart racing, club racing, GT racing, bikes......the list goes on. Maybe thats the problem, as we elevate our heros and super sports stars we become more unattached and less able to relate to the sports, and perhaps it more difficult to convince the armchair supporter that investing somne taxpayers money really could benfit everyone. Well said Ron and I join you in saying "You guys have got it all wrong!"
Posted 11:14 27th August 2008
Is it not the British way to put a negative spin on everything we do instead of being positive? Whenever us Brits have the chance to do something adventurous we make a mess of it and critisise everything until it's ruined, whether it's trying to build the best airport terminal, the best national football stadium or trying to build a great Olympic event, we always make a mess of it! Not to mention losing the Silverstone venue from the F1 calendar which sums up our attitute to sport investment in general. Whilst some events in the UK have gone well Euro '96 went well because the infrastructure was already in place and we didn't need to build anything or invest too much. I don't think Ron is really ashamed at being English, he's ashamed at the way we lack the drive, ambition and teamwork that other countries put into their projects and I see his point!
Posted 09:50 27th August 2008
Ron Dennis is spot-on. What he's talking about here is how the government doesn't want to invest money into ventures that have a high earning potential. It's not taxpayers money they're spending: all the international money that comes into the country as a result of F1 through sponsorship and tourism, not to mention the jobs created and the scientific & technological breakthroughs that come out of F1, more than makes up for the comparitively small initial outlay. The government takes this view on everything however, education and health are inproperly funded, our treasury depleted on many foreign ventures while the pound gets weaker in the global economy. Making sure we stage a headlining F1 event won't solve all those problems, but it's an example of where the government plays it 'safe', and inevitably just ends up doing nothing.
Posted 08:39 27th August 2008
Well said Ron! Dirty, ill thought out airports, stadiums and cities and a "lets kick any project that try's to improve the look and standard of life around us" attitude. McLaren are testament to doing things properly - look at their achievments and their new headquarters. As for tax paying, I should think the revenues generated by McLaren and their staff alone entitle him to an opinion....and yes he is a UK resident. Keep speaking out Ron.
Posted 14:32 26th August 2008
Somewhat ashamed Ron is English. By the way is he resident and paying UK tax unlike the majority of his industry?
Posted 13:32 26th August 2008
Well said Ron. Until we start to be a little more self examining as a nation we will carry on dreaming of lost empires. Face up to the fact that we may still lost F1 in the UK. That we may have an embarrasingly underfunded Olympics. That sport in schools is a national disgrace. The list goes on forever but whatever you do, don't ever criticise complain - simply not done. I have nothing against patriotism but it must be tempered with realism and we should listen to our top achievers like Ron.
Posted 13:32 26th August 2008
I find Ron Dennis's comments offensive! How can he say that he feels ashamed to be English? What sort of comment is that from someone so influencial in his field? I'm English and although we are not always the most successful at sport Im still as patriotic as ever! In terms of events in the UK, Look at Euro 96 and the Manchester Commonwealth Games, 2 fantastic examples of how to host major events! I'm sure Donnington winning the contract for the UK Formula 1 meet will be very successful too. With Hamilton on the rise to world domination, a fantastic success for team GB at the Olympics, cricket on the up at both domestic (twenty20) and England, and the Premiership unrivalled worldwide in football terms surely we should all be possitive about sport in England and being English! Roll on 2012 when we can invite the world to our wonderful nation where "most" of us are PROUD to be English/British!
Posted 12:31 26th August 2008
I couldn't agree more!! There is so much negativity when really we should have more optimism in things that Britain do. Well done for speaking out Ron, don't stop now!!
Posted 12:28 26th August 2008
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