ARC Prize Money Dispute: What Has Happened So Far

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DECEMBER 17

Arena Racing Company were the first organisation to act following news of the government's repression on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

The government's decision to reduce stakes from £100 to as little as £2 - which transpired from a matter of parliament, resulted in a domino effect for ARC, who had to reduce the amount of allocation they had involved with racing prize money.

Arc's total commitment to total prize money was projected to downgrade to almost £15 million in 2019; a decrease of 16% from 2018.

The changes were expected to come into fruition around February the 11th, affecting over 3,000 races in the sport.

JANUARY 30

Arena Racing Company then warned staff that compulsory redundancies were likely at the racecourse group, as a result of the financial blow from the expected betting-shop closures.

With several betting shops set to shut, the bookmaker firms therefore would withdraw their prize money input from the money they receive from media rights payments to racecourses, which is estimated to be around £50 million.

Arc were budgeting for at least 1,000 betting shops to have closed by the end of 2019, with Arc's Chief Executive Martin Cruddace suggesting the closures would only increase in the months and years to come.

FEBRUARY 13

Arc's lower prize-money levels come into effect with the meeting at Arc-owned Southwell. Trainers and owners begin to feel the heat as a result of the cuts.

FEBRUARY 21

Boycotts begin to unfold by all opposing the decision, as trainers force one race on Lingfield's Winter Derby card to be scrapped after no runners were declared, while another was completed courtesy of a walkover.

The trainers and owners appear to have the upper-hand.

FEBRUARY 27:

A scheduled boycott of a further five meetings across the next week was staged by multiple owners and trainers, as the debate over Arena Racing Company's prize-money input took a new turn.

Three-time Classic winning trainer Ralph Beckett was in touch with more than five-hundred counterparts, requesting them to not enter any horses for the meetings at Fontwell and Lingfield on the following Wednesday, Southwell the following Thursday and at Lingfield and Newcastle on the following Friday.

MARCH 2ND:

Arena Racing Company on Saturday night agreed with the National Trainers Federation, that it would commit the necessary prize-money to unlock levy board funding for all eligible races in the month of March.

The new agreement saw Arc commit fresh prize-money to its programme, although the sum will be reduced by £55,000 to reflect the financial impact of trainers declining to run horses in races at Lingfield and Sedgefield.

As such, Arc's new contribution was in the region of £180,000, which unlocked around £364,000 of levy funding.

MARCH 4TH:

Despite peace terms commencing over the weekend, the boycotts continued as just 19 runners were declared for Lingfield’s six-race all-weather meeting on Wednesday.

All cards at other Arena Racing Company-owned tracks - Fontwell, Southwell and Newcastle were also set to be affected.

Forty entries were made for Lingfield and less than half were declared, leaving racegoers the prospect of three matches, one race with three runners, another with four and one with six.

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