BHA Urges Government to Increase Levy Settlement
British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nic Coward, who was guest speaker at this afternoon’s Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Annual General Meeting in London, used his speech to urge the Government to increase racing’s funding when the imminent determination of the 47th Levy Scheme is announced.
"When this matter was last looked at by Government six years ago,
the then Secretary of State Tessa Jowell settled upon a levy that would
deliver funding in the range of £90m to £105m. I fail to
see how the current Determination can deliver anything but a significant
increase on this to racing: our needs have gone up, as a result of an
increased fixture list – not least to meet betting industry demands – as
have racing’s integrity costs, and the bookmakers’ capacity
to pay has also risen demonstrably.
"Now that we have reached a Determination process, Government is
required to consider fully all submissions and to reach a considered
informed view. Simply to say that the terms of the current Levy Scheme
are to be repeated will not be acceptable to us, nor justifiable given
the process that Government is working to. For one thing, it would completely
ignore the issue of betting exchanges.
"We have consistently and clearly explained why commercial discussions between certain betting operators and certain racecourses for picture payments have nothing to do with the levy, never have done, and the fact that the majority of firms have now signed up for Turf TV is though of course to be welcomed, giving racing a shop window on every high street and promoting betting on racing to punters across the country.
"Government and their consultants cannot ignore the benevolent climate British bookmakers have been operating in for a number of years now, and equally they cannot ignore reality when record profits are announced one minute, and relative poverty pleaded the next."
Coward also spoke about the collapse of last month’s criminal
trial that followed the City of London Police’s investigation into
alleged race fixing.
"I don’t intend to spend too long going over our previous
statements that have been widely reported. It is a matter of fact that
the focus of the Jockey Club’s Security Department’s file
and the complaint to the police was the gambling activities of someone
who had been warned off," he added.
"It is a matter of fact – not the Authority distancing itself
from the case – that once the initial approach to the police was
made, the investigation was in the hands of the police. It is also a
matter of fact that, following the largest such investigation of its
type, it was the police and the CPS who brought the case to court. This
was the position that we had always taken publicly well before the trial.
The outcome of the trial has not changed that.
"It is our role to deal with issues under the Rules of Racing – the
Rules that set out the standards that all involved in the sport have
to abide by – your Rules.
"Again, as we said would be the case in advance of proceedings getting underway, our legal department is reviewing the evidence presented in the trial. As the regulatory authority it is our duty to consider possible breaches of the Rules of Racing. We hope to conclude this review for next month’s Board meeting."
Coward added that the remit had been extended of Dame Elizabeth Neville’s review of BHA security operations, processes and procedures along with the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the joint security review of 2003.
"Since the trial we have asked Dame Elizabeth to broaden her remit
to take into account any issues raised by the trial, and I have also
asked her to assess the processes and procedures that racing and other
sports governing bodies should adopt when dealing with betting-related
matters that may involve breaches of law, as well as its own rules – this
is seriously important bearing in mind the new criminal offence of cheating
connected with betting. If there are lessons to learn from Dame Elizabeth’s
review, we will learn them," added Coward.
He revealed theat British Horseracing Authority director Ben Gunn has
just been asked by the tennis governing bodies to lead a review into
integrity in the sport.
"The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and grand slams turned to us, as the leaders in the field, when first facing these issues," added Coward. "And in recognition of his expertise, the combined tennis governing bodies have now just yesterday announced that they have appointed Ben Gunn to jointly lead an independent analysis of their integrity regulations and procedures."
Coward added that the British Horseracing Authority’s former Security
Department had been renamed the Department of Integrity Services and
"This is not a name change, but reflects an important change in direction. It demonstrates a clear statement of intent: upholding the highest levels of integrity amongst the sport’s participants will lie at the heart of our operations," he continued.
"From the moment anyone applies for a licence, they will be made fully aware of the standards expected of them, including our new rules covering Inside Information. Education is key. The underpinning principle is that we do not want to have an integrity function with which individuals only come into contact when under suspicion or involved in an investigation in some way or another. Deterrent, detection and protection are of course important but the education process will, of course, always be ongoing."
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