I saw an item from the GREAT British newspaper, The Independent, on horse racing in the U.K. and thought you might be interested in seeing what is going on over the pond.
For those who are bemoaning the state of American horse racing, check this out.
Britain’s second most popular spectator sport: horseracing finds itself, once again, in the midst of financial crisis and organisational meltdown.
With the seemingly perennial row over funding the sport threatening to spiral out control this year, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has opted to delay publication of its 2011 fixture list and issue a furious press release blaming bookmakers and betting exchanges for “exploiting loopholes” to get out of paying their share.
Bookies are legal in the U.K., you know.
The decision – described by the BHA as “unprecedented” – could be set to cast a shadow over the livelihoods of 20,000 full-time workers in the sport and a further 80,000 who work indirectly within racing.
Racing is unique among sports in the UK (and totally different from the U.S., I should add) in that it is funded by a statutory levy of 10 per cent on the profits bookmakers and betting exchanges make from those who bet on the sport.
The racing authorities argue that bookies should pay much more.
The bookies disagree.
It is usually all resolved in meetings at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) where ministers (who would dearly love to get shot of the responsibility) are called upon to knock heads together.
The BHA, which regulates the sport, says it has made the decision to suspend the fixture list because the yield from the levy has collapsed.
“Despite the betting industry posting bumper profits in recent years, the amount contributed to the levy has gone into freefall,” it says. “In 2009, the yield from the Horserace Betting Levy shrank by more than 20 per cent, from £115.3m to £91.6m. It has been reported that the 2010 levy has dropped even further to £76.5m, a further fall of 17 per cent.”
In other words, the levy has dropped by more than a third in the last two years.
Nic Coward, the BHA’s chief executive, said: “This is massively frustrating, particularly as in many ways the sport’s hard work to prepare for and beat off the worst of the recession is going to plan.
“The levy underpins the fixture list, tens of thousands of people depend on it for their livelihoods and this year we are facing a catastrophic cut in income. It is not fair and not right that the people working in racing should suffer as a result of the majority of the betting industry looking to bypass the levy in order to maximise their own profits.
I’ll keep my eye on what’s occurring in the U.K.
Have you ever been over there and gone to one of their grass tracks? Stunning.
I want to see this industry thrive everywhere, not just in the UK, not just in the US.
Are you with me?