Horserace Betting Levy Board Borrows £21.5m From Government Due To Covid

The Horserace Betting Levy Board has borrowed £21.5m from the UK government to help support the sport in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. £7.5m from the money will be allocated to prize money to remain competitive with other racing nations.

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HBLB Borrows Money Due To Covid-19 © Pixabay.

The horserace levy board has announced that they have secured a £21.5m loan from the UK government to offer a lifeline to the sport that has struggled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The board state that well over £400m has been lost by British racing in lost racecourse revenue since the outbreak of coronavirus, and as a result, prize money that has been paid to winners has dropped by 41% in that time. They also state that the courses continue to struggle as the numbers of spectators allowed to meetings is restricted.

The Horserace Betting Levy Board took advantage of the government’s Sport Winter Survival Package. The board explained that the money had been lent to them, rather than individual courses and businesses, due to the sport’s particular governance structure. Their role in providing central funding to the costs of race-day regulation, equine welfare and industry training was also another consideration.

The UK government launched the Sport Winter Survival Package in 2020 to support “the immediate future of major spectator sports” impacted by the lack of paying guests at events.

£7.5m of the £21.5m will be used as prize money for future events. The money will be split approximately 60% to Flat racing and 40% to Jumps. It will be targeted to support upper tiers of racing with the sport having fears that the reduction in prize money would encourage horse owners to race their horses in more lucrative markets.

The Horserace Betting Levy Board have stated that the loan will be repaid from future Levy returns.

In a statement on the British Horseracing Authority website, Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “British racing is grateful for this vital support from the Sport Winter Survival Package. We much appreciate the assistance of the Levy Board in agreeing to take on the loan and work with racing to agree how the money is best used and distribute using existing funding processes.

“Plans for the deployment of these funds have been designed to target the areas where we have seen a decline in horses in training and provide confidence in the future to our investors.

“Britain is rightly proud of its unique and world-leading racing heritage. But it is clear that with competition around the globe increasing, this is not sufficient to attract the best in the world to be trained and raced here. Ensuring that prize-money is competitive helps ensure that Britain has the best horses, which benefits everybody who loves the sport.

“It is also important that we recognise the contribution and sacrifices made by trainers and jockeys, and the loyalty of their owners, that have combined to keep racing going during the pandemic.

“Vital to the overall success of British racing are our unique racecourses, whose staff have also worked so hard since racing resumed to ensure we remain compliant with Covid rules and guidelines. Supporting their financial recovery is an important part of this plan and will help to ensure our races retain their place as being at the forefront of the global racing scene.”

Courses have been making a loss in every event they host since spectators were unable to attend. The Horserace Betting Levy Board provides a grant of £12,571 per fixture, but the British Horseracing Authority charges a fixture fee of £15,341

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