Levy fall forces fixture delay

Racing's rulers were "left with no choice" but to delay the publication of the fixture list for 2011.

That is the view of British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nic Coward following a decision which comes on the back of a substantial drop in the Levy return for this year and an "uncertain 2011 position".

Announcing the delay in a statement, Coward said: "The BHA has been left with no choice but to delay the publication of the 2011 fixture list in the face of the current uncertainty about Levy income.

"This is massively frustrating, particularly as in many ways the sport's hard work to prepare for and beat off the worst of the recession is going to plan.

"What we could not plan on was the extent to which betting operators were going to take the Levy down through exploiting loopholes.

"The Levy underpins the fixture list, tens of thousands of people depend on it for their livelihoods and this year we are facing a catastrophic cut in income from the Levy.

"It is not fair and not right that the people working in racing should suffer as a result of the majority of the betting industry looking to bypass the Levy in order to maximise their own profits.

"It would be irresponsible for us to plan for 2011 when setting fixtures now could ultimately result in racing being left out of pocket.

"Decision makers should be in no doubt about what is happening and take urgent action."

Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers Federation, said: "This delay will make life increasingly difficult for trainers.

"Prize money, a yard's key income, has already dropped significantly over the years, while at the same time the cost of fielding a runner has gone up.

"If this carries on everyone will just pack up and stop racing.

"Bookies need to wake up to the increasing damage that this lack of funding is causing to the grassroots of racing, and ensure they pay a more appropriate return to the Levy."

Paul Fisher, chief operating officer of Jockey Club Racecourses, which operates 14 racecourses in the UK and is scheduled to host a quarter of the British racing calendar in 2010, added: "Racecourses are businesses like any other, and it is important for us to have certainty over fixtures and funding to plan our race days and events.

"We make a major contribution to local jobs, tourism and growth and that is important to communities in these difficult economic times.

"We have removed more than £7m (€8.37m) in costs across our business for two years in succession as a necessary response to difficult financial conditions.

"Anything that delivers a further blow is something racing can ill-afford."

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