Horse racing receives financial boost form latest DCMS relief tranche

By | March 29, 2021

Horse racing will receive a much needed financial boost as part of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) latest tranche of funding.

As a result of the DCMS’ latest round of sports funding, horse racing will receive £21 million in loans, committed to the Horse Racing Levy Board (HRLB).

This funding ‘will ensure essential race day integrity costs and related health and safety expenditure are safeguarded,’ which will in turn enable the Levy Board to continue to support the industry’s bounce back against the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said: “We are extremely grateful to officials at Sport England, DCMS and the Treasury for their support in agreeing this funding to racing.

“We are grateful also to the Horserace Betting Levy Board for agreeing to our proposal and borrowing this money to support the central funding of racing. This money will help ensure racing continues behind closed doors despite the absence of spectator revenues. 

“This will benefit our racecourses, our participants and their communities, and the vital role racing plays as an employer and contributor to the rural economy.”

In addition to horse racing, men’s professional Rugby League will receive a further 16.7 million on top of the existing 16 million emergency loan scheme, as well as 1.45 million in grants to the community and women’s games.

20 clubs across Steps 1 and 2 of the National League football system will benefit from £6.8 million worth of grants, increasing the total support to these teams as part of the Sport Survival package to £11.5 million.

Lastly, £300,000 will be loaned to speedway, whilst the Santa Pod Raceway will receive financial support totalling £843,000.

“We promised to stand by and protect our major spectator sports when we had to postpone fans returning,” remarked Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

“Through our Sport Survival Package and existing business support schemes, we have helped hundreds of clubs to survive this difficult winter period. As the turnstiles begin to open over the coming weeks, players, staff and fans across the country can now look forward to a full return to action with confidence.”

Sir Ian Chesire, Chair of the Independent Board, added: “As we look to the conclusion of the Winter phase of the Sport Survival Package, this tranche of £50 million in support funding for rugby league, horse racing, speedway, drag racing, and clubs playing in football’s National League will ensure these clubs and organisations are able to sufficiently recover from the financial impact of the pandemic.”

The announcement is positive news for the sport of horse racing after a series of regulatory decisions with negative consequences for the industry, notably the ‘hammer blow’ of the DCMS’ refusal to review the betting levy.

After conducting an assessment of the financial damages to UK racing caused by the pandemic, the BHA requested the DCMS to undertake an early review of bookmakers’ levy duties – sports betting operators currently contribute a 10% levy to horse racing from all profits – as part of a pending review. 

However, leaders in the sport were dismayed when then sports minister Nigel Huddleston remarked that he had ‘made it clear’ that such a review would not form any part of the planned reform of British gambling regulations.