In what it is describing as ‘a landmark moment in the history’ of British Horseracing, the industry’s major stakeholders have signed a Members’ Agreement, which in theory allows it to act in a unified manner, with the major stakeholders making strategic decisions for the long-term benefit of the industry by acting as a united body, enshrined in a formal Agreement.
The signatories to the document are:
- British Horseracing Authority (BHA)
- Racecourse Association (RCA)
- Racehorse Owners Association (ROA)
- Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA)
- National Trainers Federation (NTF), also representing the ‘Licensed personnel’ –Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and National Association of Stable Staff (NASS)
Steve Harman, Chairman of the BHA, said: “This is a landmark moment for the sport and the industry. We now move forward from a position of strength as a sport and industry which is united.”
The ground-breaking agreement could prove to be a big problem in the sides of bookmakers who are currently lobbying against the introduction of a racing right, as suggested by Chancellor George Osborne earlier this year. While co-operation on this scale may not have the shelf life for long term progress, it could provide a unified voice for the sport for long enough to get the racing right pushed through Parliament.
Indeed the recent failure to agree on next year’s Levy Scheme can be viewed as racing already flexing its muscles; there is little motivation for the sport to agree a deal with the betting industry when it knows that the Levy Scheme’s failure will likely accelerate plans for the introduction of the racing right.
The Members’ Agreement enacts a change of the BHA’s articles as to how the regulatory and governing body operates and make decisions. This means that there will now be three methods of decision making for the BHA:
- Decisions which can be made autonomously
- Decisions which can only be made after consultation has taken place
- Tripartite decisions (which fall into two categories, Category A decisions can be made by a 2:1 majority, Category B decisions must be unanimous)
These decisions will be made via a tripartite Committee structure, involving a Members’ Committee meeting quarterly with a responsibility for taking high-level strategic decisions, and an Executive Committee meeting monthly with a responsibility for taking executive decisions and implementing the strategy.
It is a bit of a coup for Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, to get the sport’s various disparate factions to agree to this. He commented: “The Members’ Agreement is the essential next step of the evolution within the sport and what is a major industry, which supports 85,000 jobs and generates an economic impact of £3.45bn.
“British Racing is a sport and industry at a crossroads. We need to act to insulate the sport from the risk of decline and to position ourselves for growth. If we are to do this then we need to be able to make strategic decisions as a unified industry.
“The Agreement gets our key stakeholders round the table to make those big decisions, in the best interests of the sport. It makes us greater than the sum of our parts and represents the industry formally coming together in a manner which it rarely has in the past.
“This development will bring significant benefits to our industry’s customers and participants, including a greater say in the way the industry is run, increased simplicity, transparency, accountability, streamlined decision making processes and better long term prospects if the structure helps deliver growth.”
Philip Freedman, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, said: “This marks another step on the road which began over twenty years ago when the Jockey Club created the British Horseracing Board, prior to the foundation of the BHA in 2007. We now have a modern, governance structure which is fit for purpose. The process will be complete when the Racing Right gives a Racing Authority the financial independence which racing has now shown it is capable of taking responsibility for, and acting in the interests of all those who have a stake in it.”