British drinks brand Rich Energy is still the title sponsor of the Haas Formula One Team, despite its official Twitter account posting a tweet on Wednesday saying it had terminated its contract.
The tweet in question is still live on Rich Energy’s official Twitter account, but Haas F1 and Rich Energy’s own shareholders have denied the brand has any plans to cancel its sponsorship.
In a statement seen by SportBusiness Sponsorship, the “shareholders who own the majority of Rich Energy” said: “We wholeheartedly believe in the Haas F1 Team, its performance, and the organisation as a whole and we are fully committed to the current sponsorship agreement in place.
“We also completely believe in the product of Formula 1 and the platform it offers our brand.
“Clearly the rogue actions of one individual have caused great embarrassment.
“We are in the process of legally removing the individual from all executive responsibilities. They may speak for themselves but their views are not those of the company.”
But in a bizarre turn of events, Rich Energy chief executive William Storey dismissed the shareholders’ statement, saying he controls “all the assets” at the company.
In a tweet that is still live on Rich energy’s official account at the time of writing, Storey said: “The ludicrous statement by minority shareholders cosy with @redbull & @WhyteBikes is risible.
“Their attempted palace coup has failed. I control all of the assets of @rich_energy & have support of all key stakeholders” #RichEnergy.”
@rich_energy CEO @_williamstorey has commented "The ludicrous statement by minority shareholders cosy with @redbull & @WhyteBikes is risible. Their attempted palace coup has failed. I control all of the assets of @rich_energy & have support of all key stakeholders" #RichEnergy pic.twitter.com/1d32m1AELG
— Rich Energy (@rich_energy) July 11, 2019
Storey’s tweet has led motorsports observers to suggest he may have posted the original “rogue” tweet announcing Rich Energy’s termination of the partnership.
Despite the ongoing soap opera between Storey and his shareholders, Haas has confirmed that the brand is still its title sponsor and it will race with Rich Energy branding on its car livery at the British Grand Prix this weekend.
“Rich Energy is currently the title partner of Haas F1 Team. I cannot comment further on the contractual relationship between our two parties due to commercial confidentiality.” – Guenther Steiner, Team Principal pic.twitter.com/egSltgGnAO
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 11, 2019
The race is likely to be the last time Rich Energy can use its stag’s head logo on British soil, after losing a copyright infringement battle with UK bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes in May this year.
Among the penalties imposed by the UK High Court, Rich Energy has been ordered to hand over details of all its financial transactions to date, including its sponsorship with Haas, and must remove its logo from all UK business assets by July 18.