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Volume 10 No. 24

Finance

Night horse racing will be introduced on the Gold Coast and two greyhound tracks will be opened in a A$200M ($158M) "plan to stimulate the industry," according to Daryl Passmore of the COURIER MAIL. An infrastructure plan, released by Racing Queensland, "sets out how the biggest cash injection for the sport in the state’s history will be spent." Priority projects for the next two years "include a top-class lighting system for the Gold Coast Turf Club that will enable night-time events, seen as a big drawcard for locals and tourists." Racing Queensland said that it was "close to selecting two sites to drive the growth of greyhounds in the southeast: a purpose-built replacement home for Ipswich and a new venue for the Brisbane club." Locations being considered include Rocklea and Bundamba. Racing Queensland CEO Eliot Forbes said that the plan "would lay the foundation for the industry’s success and growth of all three codes for future generations." He said, "Our vision to connect people through the thrill of racing can only become reality if we deliver on the wide range of infrastructure needs and grow racing and non-racing revenue." The long-term vision for trotting is to "build two key locations." One will be a "state-of-the-art harness racing facility that will serve as the code's peak metropolitan venue." The other will be "a landmark secondary racing and training venue." The plan has identified A$198M ($156M) of projects. The Racing Infrastructure Fund, held by Queensland Treasury, has A$120M ($95M) available -- A$63M ($50M) now and the rest between '20 and '23. Racing Queensland aims to meet the A$78M ($61.5M) shortfall between the RIF and the infrastructure spending target "through increased betting, commercial agreements and developing assets" (COURIER MAIL, 9/22).

McLaren Formula 1 "crashed into the red," with the F1 owner "paying the price for its troubles in the pit lane," according to Simon Duke of the SUNDAY TIMES. A drop in sponsorship income and prize money led to the U.K.-based company turning in a £6M loss last year, against a £4M profit in '15, according to accounts at Companies House. The company, which ousted long-term Chair Ron Dennis in November, has also been "investing heavily in its tech consultancy division." Dennis' pay dropped by £200,000 to £3.7M last year. In June, the 70-year-old severed his "near four-decade-long ties" with McLaren after selling his 25% stake for £275M. McLaren recently raised about £500M ($675.2M) in the bond market to buy out Dennis (SUNDAY TIMES, 9/24).

Premier League side Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley dropped the asking price for the club to £380M ($513.2M) "in an attempt to complete a sale." Newcastle has "effectively been on the market for several years" without finding a buyer, but there were "fresh negotiations with Chinese investors last summer" and Ashley said that he valued the club at £400M ($540.2M) (LONDON TIMES, 9/23).

Sold-out rugby and football int'ls "helped the Aviva Stadium score an operating profit" of €3.1M for '16. Accounts filed for New Stadium, the company co-owned by the FA of Ireland and the Irish Rugby Football Union, show that operating profits fell by €500,000 "despite an additional 150,000 customers attending events at the south Dublin venue." In the seventh year of operations following the reopening of the old Lansdowne Road facility, the stadium held 21 events, up from 16, "and attracted almost 750,000 people" (SUNDAY TIMES, 9/24).

The Irish Racehorse Trainers' Association estimates that up to €4M ($4.78M) is "ready and waiting to be put into Irish racing's new stable staff pension scheme." The scheme set up to replace an old pension fund wound up in '10 will be financed by a "proportion of prize money deducted from trainers." IRTA CEO Michael Grassick said on Friday that "such deductions have continued in the years since the old scheme finished" (IRISH TIMES, 9/23).