The new media rights arrangements for 21 of the 26 Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) was unanimously approved by the Board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) on Friday.
This new agreement is for a period of five years beginning in 2024.The HRI Board welcomed the unanimous approval of the AIR Board for this deal and the authorisation for AIR to conclude contractual arrangements for 21 of its 26 member racecourses. The completion of the sale of the media rights for 21 racecourses as well as HRI's data rights for all fixtures will now be progressed in timely fashion. The United Irish Racecourses (UIR), comprised of Kilbeggan, Limerick, Roscommon, Sligo and Thurles rejected the new media rights deal earlier this week. HRI will be writing to the quintet of UIR racecourses separately.
Suzanne Eade, CEO of HRI, said in a statement, “To maximise the value of the media rights on behalf of racecourses and the industry, the HRI media rights committee engaged experts to provide a comprehensive valuation of the rights of Irish racing and to assist with the production of an extensive invitation to tender. While the process has been lengthy, the benefits will be significant as it has resulted in new media rights arrangements, approved today by the HRI Board, which represent an extremely positive deal for all Irish racecourses.
“Based on future growth projections, it is hoped that the total value [of Irish media rights] could grow by an estimated further 50% by 2028.
“The outcome has been a long-term deal which will underpin the financial viability of racecourses until at least 2028 and has been unanimously approved by the media rights committee, the board of HRI and the board of AIR.
“Whilst the terms of the media rights arrangements cannot be revealed for confidentiality reasons, the Joint Bid by Sports Information Services (SIS) and Racecourse Media Group (RMG) clearly offered the best financial proposition for Irish racing media rights across all the packages on offer, which was independently validated by an expert third party.
“This will see the overall percentage of the total revenues received by racecourses growing progressively over the next five years. The income flowing to racecourses will be distributed on an open, transparent and equitable basis, with each racecourse receiving revenues largely derived from the betting turnover on their respective individual fixtures.
“There are significant safeguards built into the new arrangements for racecourses with each venue guaranteed its 2022 average per race income in 2024. An easing-in provision has also been included for the first three years of the new deal to assist smaller racecourses as the model moves to a turnover basis. Virtually all racecourses are forecast to achieve higher revenues in 2025 than at present.
“HRI is extremely concerned that confidential information pertaining to the existing media rights arrangements appears to have been disclosed in breach of the strict confidentiality terms within the existing contract. It is deeply regrettable that confidential and commercially sensitive information within the proposed contractual arrangements for the future rights also appears to have been disclosed. HRI will continue to respect the confidential basis on which the bids were made.
“Much has been said in the media of the HRI earnings in this media rights agreement but without acknowledging that the earnings go directly back to developing the industry, assisting racecourses with capital development grants, paying for other racecourse supports and contributing to the funding of additional fixtures which provide opportunities for owners, trainers, jockeys and all industry participants. HRI has always been conscious of the role it plays in the industry and has consistently listened and reacted to the concerns of racecourses of every size in consecutive rights negotiations.”
To read Eade's full statement, please click here.