Go Racing consortium jumps final hurdle to win horseracing TV rights

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The Independent Online

The two-year saga of selling the media rights to British horseracing appeared to be almost at the finishing post yesterday after the sport's governing body gave its backing to a £307m offer from the Go Racing consortium.

After wringing a series of concessions from Go Racing ­ which consists of Arena Leisure, Channel 4 and BSkyB ­ the British Horseracing Board agreed the deal in the early hours of yesterday.

The BHB, meeting at Ascot, also agreed a revised funding plan for the industry's future ­ an overall arrangement for dividing the income generated in the sport. This scheme, which is tied to the media rights deal, will now be submitted to the Racecourse Association (RCA), which represents the racing venues.

Describing the on-off deal, which had looked finished last weekend, the RCA chairman, Keith Brown, said: "On Sunday night I was staring into an abyss, and so was the industry. This is not a victory for one group but a victory for racing."

The BHB support was needed because it owns essential racing data. Arena has now imposed a deadline of Monday afternoon for everything to be in place, to safeguard the £86m it has just raised from investors to fund its part of Go Racing. The BHB chairman, Peter Savill, said that without a Go Racing deal in place, Arena had faced selling off the six courses it owns.

The BHB confirmed it had formed a joint venture with Go Racing to exploit new technologies outside the main £307m deal. The BHB said it would negotiate an exclusive contract for a licence to use its data on third-generation mobile phones.

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