Speaking to the Racing Post, Betfred founder Fred Done has stated that he is prepared to walk away from racing if the sport’s governing bodies do not want his company’s sponsorship money.
Done waded into the escalating row concerning the ‘authorised betting partner’ classification which has divided racing industry stakeholders and betting operators. Racing’s recent announcement that it will only allow event sponsorship from bookmakers which deliver a ‘fair return’ from their online operations has seen some analysts speculate that a number of operators will up their voluntary payments to the sport in order to maintain brand exposure to racegoers. Done is going the other way, however.
The stand-off has seen the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Sprint Cup at Haydock, both previously backed by Betfred, without a sponsor for 2016 following the governing bodies’ preference to enter into commercial arrangements with ‘levy-friendly bookmakers’.
Done stated that he was livid at the treatment of his business, which he claims had put £150 million directly into the sport over the past four years.
“I say to racing, you don’t need to honour those [sponsorship] contracts, by mutual agreement if you want to rip those contracts up now, I’ll rip them up with you. We’ll walk away and keep our money in our pocket.
“Sometimes you have to stand up for your principles and that’s what this is about. I can spend my money anywhere I want, with good value and people I want to spend it with.”
Done detailed to the Racing Post that Betfred were prepared to renew their sponsorship of the Gold and Sprint Cups, only to be rejected last minute by the Jockey Club.
Commenting on the current relationship between the racing and betting industry, Done added: “I think relations between the betting industry and racing are worse than they’ve ever been. There’s no trust.”
Whether racing can keep a united front while turning down considerable monies from betting firm remains to be seen. However the fact that some operators already have ‘authorised betting partner’ classification – Bet365 and 32Red already pay the 10.75% Levy voluntarily – and that retail bookmakers compelled by law to pay 10.75%, means that cracks are more likley to form in the bookmaking fraternity first.