Robin Miller: Like him or not, Rossi is good for business…| Robin Miller | MotoGP
News that Valentino Rossi is not going to retire any time soon will have delighted race fans everywhere. To commercial organisations it will be like manna from heaven!
There are three true greats currently active in world sport as we know it. Rossi is one of them, others being Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. Greats? They are stars, Gods transcending their own sport and heroes to those who aspire to greatness or claim to have achieved it.
And to those promoters, manufacturers and broadcasters those whose financial futures rely heavily on Rossi’s continued participation it will be just reward for what will have been weeks of tough negotiation. For while the charismatic Italian undoubtedly wants to go “on and on” it will only because he believes he has a bike capable of winning and, hard-headed business man that he is, he will not be doing it entirely for fun.
Why are sportsmen like Federer, Woods or Rossi so valuable? Eyeballs. Woods, after being sidelined by injury, successfully returned to a relatively minor tournament in Florida last week. The television audience doubled and the attendance rose 50 per cent. Federer has just reclaimed his number one world ranking as his rivals have fallen by the wayside. Wimbledon bosses are rubbing their hands.
BT Sport has just paid circa £100m to renew its MotoGP TV rights deal for three years. You can bet execs there had more than sniff of Rossi’s contract renewal before putting pen to paper.
And Dorna? The wily Carmelo Ezpeleta will have been encouraged by his shareholders to retain their cash cow and MotoGP without Rossi would be worth a lot less. You can bet it was not just Yamaha and Lin Jarvis who were involved in the negotiations.
But the really interesting thing about these great stars is their age. In sporting terms they are old men. Federer is 36. Rossi is 39. Woods is 42. They have one thing on common which sets them apart from most others. They never get bored with winning. And financial considerations apart, as long as they think they have a chance of winning, they love the battle to do just that.