PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By Bill Barber 9:31AM 9 JUN 2016
A FRESH front in the cold war between racing and the major high street bookmakers is set to open up over the 2017 fixture list, with the sport removing betting shop-friendly twilight meetings and increasing evening meetings to suit its authorised betting partners.
Next year’s fixture list will be the first compiled under the members’ agreement signed last autumn and the initiative is one of a package agreed by racecourses, horsemen and the BHA that will lead to a net increase of around 12 meetings. There were 1,482 fixtures originally scheduled for this year.
The trial will add to the souring of relations between the major high street bookmakers and racing and could lead to a fall in the sport’s income.
The major betting shop operators Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill have not signed up to the ABP policy, which has been more enthusiastically supported by online firms including bet365, Betfair and Sky Bet.
More evening meetings are better for digital betting than retail.
BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said retail betting remained important, but that the shift to online betting had to be reflected in the fixture list.
“Historically, the fixture list had been organised around the Levy Board’s fixture criteria, which has been driven solely by the requirements of the betting shops,” he said.
“While retail betting remains important, with less than half of betting activity through that channel, using the fixture list to create further growth in remote betting makes perfect sense.”
2017 FIXTURE LIST MAIN POINTS
- Net increase of around 12 fixtures
- Twilight fixtures moved into evenings on Thursdays and Fridays
- An evening fixture on every Saturday throughout the year
- Additional Friday evening fixtures, worth at least £75,000, in the height of summer
- Code breaks introduced with no Flat fixtures on Sundays during the winter and a Flat-free Sunday each month during the summer to help racing’s participants
- Work to agree a list of geographical clashes and to work with courses to remove these clashes from the fixture list where possible
- Provide funding incentives for racecourses to improve the quality of racing during midweek and on Sundays, subject to Levy Board agreement
Read more on the fixture list shake-up in today’s Racing Post – also available on iPad