Friday, 2 March 2012




"THE HORSEMAN'S GROUP has branded levy talks between the three
biggest racecourse groups and major bookmakers unacceptable and
accused Racecourse Association members of working against racing's interests.

"The discussions, revealed by the Racing Post on Sunday (26.02.2012)
are aimed at ending the sport's reliance on the levy as the government seeks to remove itself from racing's funding mechanism and bring off-shore betting under the Gambling Commission licensing structures.

"The HG believes it is being excluded from the debate and in an open letter to
Ian Barlow of the RCA, chairman Paul Dixon said the talks were fuelled by "vested interests" and he accused the RCA of working to present his members with a "fait accompli".

"Dixon wrote: 'secret meetings and agreements cobbled together by a couple of vested interests is no way for an industry of this importance to proceed, however much the major bookmakers might prefer it.

"This type of unilateral action by racecourses is unacceptable , coming - as it does - in the middle of a process which is supposed to end up with the commercial elements of our sport being led jointly by you, the racecourses, and us, the Horseman's Group.

"The major racecourses should not, Dixon said, be taking part in any negotiations " if racing is to achieve the best deal possible".

"The racecourses' main negotiation tool with bookmakers, said Dixon, was the size of the fixture list. "Uniquely among those involved in racing, the racecourses' declared point of view - for their own commercial reasons - is that, broadly, the larger the fixture list, the better, not least because they get paid more in media rights fees for every race they stage ."

"Dixon added: "Your members are - in business terminology - conflicted, owing to the hugely significant commercial negotiations they have with bookmakers."

"Representatives of William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes have held discussions with their counterparts at Arena Leisure, Jockey Club Racecourses and Northern Racing on a proposal to continue the levy on the lines of the current scheme, but for longer than 12 months.

"A three - to - five - year deal could see bookmakers guarantee £75 million in the first year rising to £85m in the final years. Meanwhile, the two parties would work on fixture lists and a racing programme designed to maximise racing's return from betting.

"While Dixon said the HG wanted to see the shortcomings of the levy system addressed and the process of determining it less cumbersome, he added: "That does not, though, mean that the Horseman's Group is going to accept its members' main revenue stream being determined behind its back by other vested interests."

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