UK racing leadership has formed a ‘steering group’ which will present a ‘single set of proposals’ to reform horseracing’s Levy to the government at a critical time for all racing stakeholders.
The formation of a new steering group tackling Levy reforms was agreed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Jockey Club and The Horsemen’s Group – representing all levels of UK racing in mitigating COVID-19 impacts and impending economic downturn.
The BHA confirmed that independent director Joe Saumarez-Smith will chair the group, which will host its first meeting this week. Further representatives will include Nevin Truesdale and Martin Cruddace, from the Jockey Club and ARC, and Charlie Parker and Philip Freedman, present and past Chairs of The Horsemen’s Group
“The group will carry out a rapid assessment of Levy options as the government considers how best to help sports threatened by a further 6 months without spectators,” Saumarez Smith commented.
“There have already been extensive discussions recently about the various options for reforming the Levy. The Levy Steering Group has the full support of the representative bodies in racing and will now draw on the expertise of stakeholders across the industry, who will work with me and the BHA executive team to try and reach a united view of the industry on this crucial area of funding of the sport.”
Having resumed racing fixtures on 1 July, outgoing BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust warned the government and betting leadership that drastic Levy reforms would be needed to safeguard racing through a deep recession.
Back in August, racing leaders agreed on a ‘joint recovery plan’ focused on the core objectives of lowering all-round base costs, maintaining investors and ownership appeal and building the sustainable foundations for racing’s future post-covid.
The BHA has maintained its position that it is open to constructive conversations with the government and betting counterparts with regards to further Levy reforms.
Furthermore, in its announcement, the BHA recalled ‘the Prime Minister’s promise that the Chancellor would prepare a package of support for sport”.
BHA Chair Annamarie Phelps said: “I am pleased that industry leaders have agreed on a united approach to government and the support this has had from trainers, breeders and racecourse groups. Now more than ever, racing needs to talk with one voice to the government.
“We have sent the government, at their request, a new assessment of the impact of COVID on the finances of racing, including the potential mitigating impact of reform to the Levy, and making clear that the return of the public to racecourses is essential. Further proposals on the Levy are now being developed, supported by Nick Rust and his team.”