Cox Bookies vent anger over TurfTV and Levy deals
Race-backing worth £9m each year under threat
Bookmaker sponsorship of racing, worth £9m
to the sport in prize money per year, could be under threat with the emergence
of TurfTV as a new provider of pictures to betting shops. The deal recently
struck with the racecourse consortium behind TurfTV by Ladbrokes and Coral,
with Hill's set to follow, looks certain to have repercussions for the 31
tracks affiliated to the new company with bookmaker industry insiders
Horseracing Sponsors Association
Sandown Park has
already suffered with Hill's pulling out of their sponsorship of the Tingle
Creek Chase. While Irish bookmakers Paddy Power stepped in, Betfred, who are
back in talks with TurfTV, have already ended their backing of April's big
end-of-season chase, known for many years as the Whitbread Gold Cup.
"Betfred had no problem with us," said Sandown's clerk of the course
Andrew Cooper yesterday. "They said they wouldn't have gone but for the dispute
with TurfTV brewing. It was the same with Ladbrokes, who used to sponsor our
meeting this weekend."
which now sells the broadcast rights for all the country's major racecourses
including Ascot, Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom, was set up as a rival to
Satellite Information Services, whose major shareholders include bookmakers
William Hill and Ladbrokes.
"It is a worry," said Nigel Payne, chief
executive of the Horseracing Sponsors' Association, yesterday. "Around 40% of
race-sponsorship is betting or bookmaker-based. If they don't sponsor, who else
"I haven't heard of any dramatic withdrawals," added Payne. "A
lot of sponsored races are under contract, such as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle
at Cheltenham. But much will depend on the Levy ruling. Bookmakers expect some
cost to come off their payment to racing."
"We aren't about to withdraw
everything," said Ladbrokes spokesman Ciaran O'Brien. "But sponsorship is
reviewed on an annual basis. There is a significant extra cost in taking up
TurfTV, but we are now focusing on the Levy and pressing our case for that."
The bookmakers' case is that for the 2008-09 scheme they should give
£32.3m towards the Levy, an annual payment made to the sport by
off-course layers. Racing is calling for bookies to stump up £85.5m. The
TurfTV deal, at a cost of £6,500 per betting shop, had to be taken into
account said the bookmakers. However, unconfirmed reports in the case of the
Coral deal with the new company put the cost nearer £4,500.