Jockey Club Racecourses had previously projected a loss of £75-million in 2020, but now says it expects losses to exceed initial estimates following the government’s announcement on Tuesday that crowds will not be permitted at sporting venues for up to six months due to rising COVID-19 infection rates.
JCR Group Chief Executive Nevin Truesdale said he is seeking further clarity from the government on how long such restrictions may be in place and what support they may offer in the meantime.
“Organisations in the sport and events sector are facing significant financial challenges after six months with no spectators or visitors to their venues,” Truesdale said. “Previously we had estimated that revenues at Jockey Club Racecourses would be down this year by around £75 million out of an annual turnover that is normally circa £200 million, but that figure is being revised upwards on the basis we won’t have any level of spectators back from Oct. 1. We need to discuss more details of this with government, both in terms of the potential period we are looking at and the direct support for the industry that is now needed, but also making the case that restaurants and hospitality sales for example should be treated in the same way as the high street would make a real difference.
“In the meantime we will continue to race behind closed doors, as the teams have done a great job doing safely since racing resumed on June 1.”
Ascot Racecourse has staged its entire season behind closed doors, including its marquee Royal Ascot meeting, and its other headline fixture, British Champions Day on Oct. 17, will go ahead without spectators.
“Unfortunately we will not be able to welcome crowds on race days at this time in line with government policy,” said Ascot’s Director of Racing and Communications Nick Smith. “In the short term, we will be refunding or offering rollovers to all who have booked for our October race days, including QIPCO British Champions Day. Champions Day entries were very strong, and the ante-post markets reflect that a high-class renewal is on the cards, so we are focusing on that. International interest is high, and like Royal Ascot there will be Worldpool betting through the Hong Kong Jockey Club.”