Fred Done – Tote dispute sees ‘Betfred finished with UK racing’

Independent bookmaker Betfred is ready to scrap its entire commercial relationship with UK racing, detailing that it will no longer sponsor events and cull its entire on-course betting portfolio.

A frustrated Fred Done founder of Betfred has stated to the Racing Post that his company ‘can live without the sport’ and that the bookmaker’s ‘association with racing is now broken’.

Betfred’s feud with UK racing relates to 54 British racetracks led by the Jockey Club and Arena Racing Company (ARC) dropping the bookmaker’s Tote Pool services in order to launch their proprietary ‘alternative’ pools system in 2018 when Betfred’s exclusive license ends.

Done has ordered Betfred retail to close 49 of its 51 on-course betting points by July 2018. The Racing Post details that the closure could affect more than 600 UK races with approximately £6 million lost a year in much-needed sponsorship revenues.

Moving forward, the bookmaker will only maintain its association with Ascot and Chelmsford (Betfred owned) racetracks which will retain its Tote services post 2018.

Betfred has been one of the biggest and most prominent sponsors of UK racing. In 2011, the Salford bookmaker paid £230 million to buyout the governments ownership of Tote betting operations.

Done has previously stated that UK Racing governance has ‘never forgiven’ Betfred for winning the Tote tender.

Last March, Betfred’s founder warned UK racing stakeholders, that he was prepared to ‘walk away from the sport’, as the relationship between bookmakers and UK racing had reached an ‘all-time low’.

“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” Done told the Racing Post.

Done stated that his company would honour all racing sponsorship contracts until July 2018, but at that point, his firm will end its association with UK racing.

“If anything, the regret I have about not being on racecourses is that our association with racing is broken now and will be finished next year. But that’s not business, it’s sentimental.”

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