A review body has recommended, amongst other things, a reduction in the fixture list from the 2009 season. more
• An average fixture generates a raceday profit of £80,000 (this includes the contribution to the levy yield and profit for the racecourse).
• The top 10% of fixtures contributed 43% of total profit, illustrating the importance of the sport’s key events.
• Only 58 fixtures made an overall net raceday loss.
• Saturday afternoon are the sport’s shop window.
• 70% of terrestrially televised races are on a Saturday.
• Approximately one in three people who attended racing in 2006 did so on a Saturday.
• On average, the total levy generated on a Saturday afternoon exceeds every other afternoon of the week by at least 50%.
• Of the £18 million contributed by sponsors to prize money during 2006, £7.9 million (44%) was for races staged on Saturday.
• If the ten weakest Saturdays were brought up to the level of “strong” Saturdays then, in theory, an additional £2.5 million of profit before prize money could be generated.
• The performance of fixtures staged on Sunday varies significantly from racecourse to racecourse although, in general terms, it is the worst performing day.
• The average raceday profit per fixture is lower on Sundays than for any other day of the week.
• The average betting turnover per race is lower on Sundays than for any other day of the week.
• Average prize money levels at Sunday fixtures are below the industry average.
• Despite the fact that, unlike any other day, approximately £1.2 million is paid in appearance money to support field sizes, the average number of runners in each race remains at its lowest on Sundays.
• Historically there has been little difference between the profitability of afternoon and evening fixtures, with higher evening admission revenues partly offset by higher afternoon levy returns.
• The importance of the summer season cannot be underestimated – May to August generates 45% of the sport’s revenue and profit for the whole year.
• Betting data indicates that from 1st September to 31st December 2007, betting turnover for the average race at an evening fixture was approximately 55% of the average race and at its lowest on Saturday evenings.
• Unlike their summer counterparts, winter evening fixtures have been unable to make up for the disappointing off-course performance by attracting significant crowds. For the period from September to February, the average attendance at winter evening fixtures was 935, falling to just 795 during the months of December, January and February.
• The average field size at evening fixtures from December 07 to February 08 has been just 8.6 runners, which can be compared with an average of 10.6 runners in all Flat races staged in 2007.
There are 25 recommendations within the review, 20 for consideration for the 2009 fixture list and 5 longer term recommendations. These recommendations are across 8 areas and are detailed in full in the review. The recommendations include:
• It is recommended that the concept of Premier fixtures should be developed with the aim of establishing a separate tier of fixtures comprising solely of British Horseracing’s landmark events in time for the 2009 fixture list. Premier fixtures, which should have minimum prize money levels and no races below a specified class, would be uniquely branded.
• Saturdays should ideally comprise two Premier fixtures, a valuable ‘newsworthy’ feature race, two reasonable supporting cards and a sensibly balanced geographical spread of fixtures. Where these objectives are not met on a particular Saturday, the Authority will work will the incumbent racecourses to strengthen performance.
• Beyond 2009 a mechanism should be established to open up persistently underperforming fixtures in prime slots to competition from other venues.
• Work with the relevant racecourses to address underperforming Sunday fixtures.
• With effect from the 2009 fixture list, it is recommended that fixtures are not staged on one Sunday in each of the months during the height of the winter, when fixture revenues are at their lowest.
• Further ahead, the sport would benefit from a mechanism that would encourage poorly performing fixtures to move from Sundays to alternative days of the week, thereby improving their off-course performance.
• In the light of the impact of the newly created winter evening fixtures on the existing AWT winter programme, the number of winter evening fixtures should be reduced from four to three each week during the period from December to March, when no such fixtures should be staged on Saturdays.
• Develop a suitable mechanism in consultation with the Horsemen’s Group that will prevent horses rated 40 or below from being eligible to run in Flat races from the beginning of the 2009 Flat season.
• Further increase the minimum rating level at an appropriate point in the future.
AWT fixtures during the main Flat season
• Work with Flat racecourses to provide a balanced distribution of AWT opportunities across the summer.
• The movement of an AWT fixture into the summer at the expense of a Turf fixture will in future require the Authority’s approval.
• Where considered necessary, restrict bidding for BHA fixtures to racecourses in selected regions
• The Authority to review the fixture list at the end of the fixture allocation process and co-ordinate attempts to resolve geographical imbalances.
• Beyond 2009, the sport would benefit from the introduction of a geographical element into its funding mechanism for fixtures, particularly on racegoer friendly days.
• Where a particular region is identified as being in need of a fixture on Bank Holiday, racecourses in that locality should be invited to apply to stage an additional (partly funded) fixture.