Betfred To End British Horse Racing Sponsorship, Close Course Shops
Online betting company Betfred will "in effect" end its commercial relationship with British horse racing next July when its exclusive deal to operate pools betting expires, CEO Fred Done revealed, according to Tom Kerr of RACING POST. Done warned that the sport and his company "have got to learn to live without each other." The firm, a "prolific" race sponsor and on-course betting shop operator, will "shut almost all" of its track offices and "cease sponsoring" in July '18 when the pools license ends. The move will affect "more than 600 races and potentially cost racing close to" £6M ($8.2M) per year in lost sponsorship income alone. Only races at Ascot and the Betfred-owned Chelmsford, "both of which will retain the Tote" post-July '18, will avoid the sponsorship cull, while "at least 49 of the firm's 51 course betting shops will close." Done's "dramatic move is in response to the decision of 54 British courses to launch their own pools betting operation next year." Among the races that will need new sponsors are the Ebor at York, the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch at Newmarket and the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Betfred sponsored "close to 1,000 races" in '16, almost one in 10 of the 10,035 contests staged last year. Done said, "As from next year, we will fulfill everything we promise. We will not go back on anything or dodge anything or get out of contracts. I gave racing the opportunity of saying, 'We don't want you as a sponsor,' and I would have walked away. They didn't take that opportunity, but as of next July we will not be sponsoring anywhere but for the exceptions of Ascot and Chelmsford" (RACING POST, 9/21).