Threat to sponsorship

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The Independent Online
The British Horseracing Board was yesterday urged to act to defuse the controversy over owners sponsorship or risk losing further big-race backers from the sport.

As Madagans withdrew its support of the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, Vodafone, the sponsors of the Derby, asked the BHB to change its regulations governing the use of advertising logos by non-race sponsors.

Terry Barwick, director of corporate affairs for the telecommunications company which backs today's Vodac Stewards' Cup, warned: "Anyone negotiating a race sponsorship package now must look very carefully because it is being devalued by owners sponsorship."

Race backers claim their investment is undermined by a scheme, introduced to ease the VAT burden on owners, that enables logos of other companies to be displayed on silks.

It is part of the reason William Hill is to cut half its sponsorship budget and Madagans has not renewed its pounds 250,000 a year contract to support Newmarket's Classic weekend.

Barwick, whose group invests pounds 1m a year in race sponsorship, added: "One photo in a newspaper and the race sponsors lose out. The BHB must find a way in which we can live together.

"We were happy with logos on the shoulder and collar when we signed our deal with Epsom but then the rules changed to enable them to appear on the chest.

"An exclusivity deal covered us in the build-up to the big race but we have no protection for next year. The BHB could look at barring owners sponsorship for Group or Listed races but those are the races their backers want to be in."

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