Dutch Grand Prix received €1.8 million in Covid support despite no-subsidy claims
The Dutch Grand Prix, the organization behind the Grand Prix in Zandvoort, received 1.8 million euros in coronavirus support in recent years, RTL Nieuws discovered. That starkly contrasts sporting director Jan Lammers’ claim on the eve of the F1 race in 2021. He said that “the facts are” that the Dutch Grand Prix organized an event for 315,000 people “with 0 euros subsidy.”
The Dutch Grand Prix (DGP) received coronavirus support through the fixed costs subsidy TVL. In 2020, the organization received 140,000 euros in two stages, according to the broadcaster. That year would have been the return of the Grand Prix to Zandvoort, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. DGP received 1.1 million euros through TVL in 2021 and another 550,000 euros in early 2022. The last amount was the late payment for the last quarter of 2021.
According to RTL, the subsidies for 2021 are particularly remarkable because a Dutch Grand Prix was held that year, albeit at two-thirds attendee capacity due to coronavirus restrictions. The DGP also sold tickets for the 100 percent capacity 2022 Grand Prix that year.
To qualify for the TVL subsidy, companies had to show that their turnover dropped at least 30 percent in a particular quarter compared to a reference quarter. According to RTL, DGP - which gets almost all its revenue from ticket sales - managed that by applying for TVL in quarters when it didn’t sell tickets, such as April to June 2021.
The broadcaster said it asked DGP about it benefiting from the fact that it does not record any turnover in some quarters, but a spokesperson did not answer that question. “The Dutch Grand Prix organization, like many other companies, has used the TVL scheme in 2020 and 2021 within the possibilities for which it was intended,” the DGP spokesperson said. “The provision was there to ensure that companies could continue with their business operations despite a lot of uncertainty.”
According to RTL, DGP also benefited from the fact that the TVL subsidy was paid out based on the average fixed costs per sector - 34 percent of turnover for the sporting events sector - and not the actual fixed costs. The DGP lives on the Zandvoort circuit and therefore doesn’t have many of the usual fixed expenses, like maintaining an office.
When asked whether the TVL subsidy it received is in proportion to the DGP’s actual fixed costs, the spokesperson told RTL: “Look, we need a large team of people, whether they are in the office or not. We make commitments with suppliers and people. You plan it, and you have to execute those plans.” RTL pointed out that the TVL was not intended to pay employees. The government had a separate NOW wage support scheme for that. And orders from suppliers for an event that happens once a year cannot be considered fixed costs.
The DGP spokesperson stressed that the Grand Prix couldn’t happen in 2020 and had to happen at two-thirds capacity in 2021 due to the coronavirus. “In both cases, the vast majority of the event had already been built and commitments made with people and many suppliers.” The spokesperson also wouldn’t say whether the DGP made a profit in 2021. “I can say that we do not make any statements about the financial figures of the DGP Organization.”