From this article by Chris Cook in The Guardian today, a quote from Paul Struthers, head of communications at the BHA
“We have responsibility for the fixture list but without any really significant power,” Struthers said, pointing out that Newmarket had been able to move its fixture from a weekday to the Saturday without having to obtain the BHA’s consent. “It has been well documented that that was almost too strong a day’s racing, particularly when looking at the Saturdays on either side of it.
“But Saturday is the most accessible day for people to go racing, to watch racing and to bet on racing. In the current climate, with the levy system broken and offshore bookmakers not paying towards it, racecourses have to try to maximise revenue.”
Paul you cannot expect to have any power when you effectively give away your only bargaining tool – fixtures. The BHA should now withdraw its claim that it ‘governs’ Racing. It might remain as regulator but will, I suspect, only be permitted to regulate according to the wishes of whatever ‘structure’ emerges from the unholy alliance of racecourses and The Horsemen.
Paul Struthers has said that the BHA’s loss of control over fixtures has been historic – racecourses’ ‘rights’ to fixtures have also been cited as ‘historic’. The BHA claims to be the governing body; governments are allowed to change things. The BHA could have taken back full control of fixtures – the battle would have been worth it. Can you ever see the day the Premier League cedes fixture control to clubs?
The BHA had the chance to take back the power, instead it has chosen to surrender both power and responsibility to some as yet unknown new organisation comprising two bodies who’ve been at each other’s throats since tariffs were imposed by one of them – The Horsemen’s Group. What chance have these two of coming up with something that will sustain racing as we know it? None, is my guess.
I understand the surrender of fixtures control by the BHA is also requested in the submission from the Association of British Bookmakers regarding the Levy replacement. Well as the quote at the top shows, that has already happened – the first and key strike in the bookmakers’ divide and conquer strategy delivered without a drop of blood spilled.
Those who love the sport should get themselves a nice map of Britain’s racecourses for posterity. Bookmakers will have a new market over the next decade – betting on the next racecourse to close.
Shame on you BHA.