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Levy Board boost prize-money

Paul-LeeThe ROA has thanked the Levy Board and its Chairman Paul Lee, and Chief Executive Alan Delmonte, for the support they have shown British racing by releasing £6.5 million from their reserves to help maintain prize-money levels in 2019.  
The extra financial support, most of which will be targeted at the middle to lower tiers of British racing, came with a call for the sport to develop a long-term plan to counter the threat to its finances from falling betting shop numbers as a result of the government's crackdown on FOBTs.
Some racecourses, most notably those under the Arena Racing Company umbrella, had signalled their intention to cut prize-money in 2019 in response to the threat of falling income, a move which in ARC's case led to trainer and owner boycotts.
Charlie Liverton, ROA Chief Executive, said: “Racecourse income is declining and, it is expected, will do so over the coming three years. This will see a reduction in total prize-money available to owners as a result, albeit following a year in 2018 in which owners raced for £160m; an all-time high. Owners currently contribute some £30m towards prize money each year themselves and, whilst income for owners will be maintained in 2019, we must be under no illusion that there will be a reduction in total prize money available in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, understanding how racecourses are preparing to deliver additional income streams to the sport is of critical importance to all those who invest or work in the industry.  
“The ROA will continue in its quest to see a much more open and transparent financial relationship between racecourses, horsemen and bookmakers. We will also continue the positive recent work undertaken through the fixtures and funding process to ensure that a balanced fixture list is provided with a distribution model more reflective of horsemen’s requirements than is currently in place. It is in all our interests to drive new and increased income streams in order to see a vibrant bloodstock industry and therefore, a profitable racecourse community, and the ROA will continue to work with racecourse representatives, and the BHA, to achieve this.”
A submission to the Levy Board made on behalf of British racing stated all racecourses were expecting to see a reduction in media rights income in 2019, and while the tracks would absorb the majority of any loss, cumulative racecourse contributions to prize-money were forecast to fall by £6.5m in 2019.
At its meeting this week the Levy Board approved the allocation of a further £6.5m to prize-money?for the 12 months from April 1 as part of an overall expenditure budget of £99.3m for this year, up £14m on the total budgeted for 2018.
Of that £6.5m, £4.1m will be targeted at the grassroots of the sport. Last year extra prize-money for middle and lower tier races, which included appearance money and £400 from the Levy Board, was 'unlocked' when courses put in an extra £900 from their own funds.
Under the new agreement, courses can unlock extra funds by adding £400, with the Levy Board making up the £500 difference.
Levy Board chairman Paul Lee said: "This increase in expenditure has been possible due to our additional income from the 2017 extension of the levy to bookmakers outside Britain but also because, since 2017, the board has carefully sought to increase its reserves rather than expending all of that extra income.
 “In agreeing the £6.5m, the board strongly encouraged the continued liaison between representatives of horsemen and racecourses as they discuss the creation of new, contractual prize-money agreements.
"An environment of openness and transparency will be of great benefit to racing and betting as both industries confront the financial challenges ahead. The Levy Board will do what it can to provide assistance."

29 March 2019

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