Horse Racing Rights Deal Faces Delay

03 May 2001

Attempts by Go Racing – a consortium including Arena Leisure, BSkyB and Channel 4 – to win the lion’s share of broadcast and betting rights to British horse racing have been plunged into chaos, only days after the group seemed on the verge of triumph [WAMN: 30-May-01].

Behind the disarray lies an announcement by the Race Course Association, the trade organisation representing British tracks, that no deal can be concluded until it has completed an investigation into an earlier stage of the bidding process.

Launched last year, the inquiry concerns allegations that the Racecourse Holdings Trust – a track owner and subsidiary of the Jockey Club – proposed that media group Carlton Communications (initially a rival bidder for the rights) pay it consultancy fees in return for its support.

Although the RCA has subsequently given its blessing to the bid from Go Racing, it has announced that no contracts can be signed with racecourses until the inquiry has come to a close.

RCA chief executive Stephen Atkin yesterday expressed hope that the investigation could be concluded by May 11, the deadline given to racecourses to sign up to Go Racing’s package. “We will be writing to courses on that matter before they sign,” he continued.

News source: The Times (London)