CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE - VODAFONE AND JORDAN F1. Words could be costly for Vodafone in the High Court, Francesca Newland writes

It's not easy being David Haines, the global brand director of Vodafone. After all, working out who your real friends are when you control the purse strings of a claimed £1.5 billion global marketing budget is pretty difficult.

So although publicly those who know Haines will be crying tears of sympathy as he faces the High Court in London for claims that Vodafone owes Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan around £100 million, others are sure to be sniggering.

The case revolves around Jordan's claim that Haines uttered four immortal words in a mobile phone conversation in the back of a taxi in March 2001: "You've got the deal."

The trouble is, however, that Jordan's Formula 1 team is not going to receive the £100 million over three years. Instead, Vodafone has done a deal with Ferrari.

The court is now trying to establish whether or not Haines did make a verbal commitment to Jordan. Haines described the claim as "nonsense" in the witness stand and said he was doing nothing more than "window shopping" when he met with Jordan.

Jordan's case has been weakened by evidence submitted to the High Court that he discussed sponsorship deals with both Orange and Deutsche Post after he claims he struck a deal with Vodafone.

Jordan has cause for worry. Formula 1 is suffering on several fronts.

Like most areas of the marketing spectrum, sponsorship has seen its budgets slashed in the current recession. In addition, the sport's ability to attract sponsors has been somewhat weakened by falling television viewing figures in 2002 (widely attributed to the all-too predictable dominance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari).

The sport also faces the spectre of a tobacco promotion ban. Although the Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's friendship with the Labour Party may have initially helped delay the ban, the deadline date is looming.

In fact, it has been brought forward by a year to 2005.

Such pressures are hitting the smaller teams, such as Jordan, hard. Especially as they haven't got the security of the backing of a car manufacturer.

The Prost team went bust in 2001 and Arrows collapsed last year after Orange withdrew its sponsorship.

So it is understandable that Eddie Jordan was more than a little frustrated when his "deal" with Vodafone didn't pan out. He argues that the reason talks with other potential sponsors occurred even after he claims he'd reached an agreement with Haines is that he and Vodafone wanted to keep their deal a secret, enabling maximum impact for a launch of the announcement in Monaco. It was at the May Grand Prix at Monaco, however, that Vodafone and Ferrari announced their deal.

Vodafone has also argued that Haines did not have the authority to agree a deal on his own.

Many see this court case as making or breaking Jordan, which has been on a shoestring budget since 1991. Jordan is certainly sticking its neck well above the parapet. Last month, Eddie Jordan even accused Ferrari of blackmail saying that the company threatened to withdraw financial support unless he drop his case against Vodafone (the big car manufacturers donated £5 million to Jordan and Minardi to save the 2003 championship after the collapse of Arrows).

Eddie Jordan has shown courage and passion in his attempt to keep the Jordan Formula 1 name alive. A positive outcome of the case would secure the team for a few more years. But a negative result could prove a fatal blow.