Go Racing warns TV rights deal is in danger

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The Independent Online

The £320m deal to sell the rights to televise horseracing to the Go Racing consortium was in danger of collapse last night because a key clause in the agreement has still not been fulfilled.

Go Racing, whose shareholders are Channel 4, BSkyB and Arena Leisure, warned that time was "fast expiring" to reach agreement and described the stance taken by the British Horseracing Board as "plainly ludicrous".

After a day of talks at the headquarters of the BHB, the industry's regulator, Go Racing said it still had not agreed the terms on which pre-race data such as details of future runners and riders would be supplied.

Go Racing said this was a "major condition" of the agreement it has struck with the 49 racecources that have been signed up. Unless it was resolved it would jeopardise an £85m fund-raising being carried out by Arena Leisure.

Shareholders in Arena Leisure are due to attend a extraordinary meeting next Monday to approve the fund-raising.

Christopher Stoddart, chief executive of Go Racing, said: "The BHB has refused so far to give a price for the supply of pre-race data. They have merely said that they will not ask more for the data than the total value of the deal which we have negotiated with the racecourse for the rights. This is plainly ludicrous as it sets the potential price far too high and creates maximum uncertainty for Go Racing."

Mr Stoddart added that he was "driven to question whether the BHB is interested in building the sport through enterprise, or whether they are merely intent on bolstering their own position".

He said it would be sad if yet another deal "foundered on the rocks of a divided industry".