Delay to Public’s Return Paints Grave Future for Horse Racing

The governing body of the horseracing industry in the UK, the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA), expressed its serious concerns about the future of the industry. BHA fears the delay to the public’s return to sporting events poses a severe threat to horse racing in the country.

The BHA issued a statement in response to the new measures released by Prime Minister Boris Johnson September 22, as the country is facing a spike in new daily coronavirus cases, prompting authorities to react and slow down the spread of the infection.

No Return of Public from October 1

As part of the new measures, planned return for audience to sporting events from October 1 was delayed as crowd gathering on the way inside and outside of a venue could further fuel the virus outbreak.

“The delay to the public’s return to sporting events is a serious blow to the horseracing industry and to the people and communities who depend upon it for their living. Our sport has worked hard with public health officials to return safely and carry out pilot events.”

Official statement

The horse racing authority argued that sporting events can be run safely, as the measures put in place for pilot projects effectively proved that, with a full evaluation of the pilots and the evidence to be utilized in future decisions still pending. Yet, the halt back announced by the Government is posing a threat to the second most attended spectator sport in the UK, the industry body noted.

Spectators Ensure the Future of Jobs and Businesses

The BHA outlined the importance of the industry was recognized from the discussions with ministers and thanked them for the strong support during these unprecedented times, but without the presence of audience at the events, the jobs of many people working in the sector would be at risk, along with the businesses they work in.

“…We will urge the government to provide financial support, as they have indicated they are considering, and to accept the case for urgent reform of the Levy. Our loyal owners and our key international investors have stood by us and we ask government to work with us to maintain that confidence in racing and in Britain.”

Nick Rust, CEO, BHA

The BHA noted it kept the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments in the loop regarding the financial impact of the crisis caused by the virus and the particular effects on rural economies, the typical working and living environment for horse racing staff. UK race courses face a loss of between of £250 million to £300 million of revenues, which will reflect into less prize money to participants and business owners.

The industry body was pleased to hear that the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary are considering measures to support the sector, expressing its will to work with the Government to determine appropriate financial assistance for rural communities.

The horse racing authority highlighted it was working hand in hand with the betting industry, another severely impacted sector that was slowly recovering from the lockdown and the halt in sporting events.

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