Financial problems cast shadow over next year's French Grand Prix

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The Independent Online

Next year's French Grand Prix has been canceled for financial reasons, a regional French newspaper reported Friday.

Le Journal du Centre newspaper said the prestigious race, held on the Magny-Cours circuit since 1991, has too small a budget to meet the financial demands outlined by the FIA, the sport's governing body.

"The financial situation does not match the financial guarantees required by (F1 boss) Bernie Ecclestone for 2004," Michel Charmant, an official for the Nievre region which hosts the race, was quoted as saying in the paper's Saturday-dated edition.

FIA, reached by telephone after office hours, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The race was scheduled for July 11 - one of 18 races on the 2004 calendar. The report said that over the last two seasons, attendance figures have dropped considerably, leading to financial difficulties. Around 105,000 fans were expected to attend on July 6 this year, but instead only 88,000 turned up.

In 2002, the race suffered a deficit of £2.6 million (US$3.1 million), the report added.