Jockey Club Calms Premier Club Speculation

Jockey Club Officials are hosing down the speculation that 'Premier League' of British racing is in the pipeline.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse

A report has given fuel to the idea that British racing was thinking of producing an elite listing of courses that could be bundled up as package and purchased to broadcasters in 2013 when contracts are due for renewal.

The main events in the bundle were to rumoured to include the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival and the Derby all being put together and sold off for the maximum appeal to possible bidders.

Although Jockey Club Racecourses, who operate Aintree, Epsom, and Cheltenham along with other courses, won't deny increasing the magnatude of broadcasting rights is "an option", they have emphasised the notion of putting courses in a Premier League-style arrangement did not come from them.

Group director of communications for Jockey Club Racecourses, Scott Bowers, said, "We stand by exactly what was said, but the idea of a Premier League has certainly not come from us.

"We were asked if it was a possibility and said it was one of many. We are not even looking at 2013 yet.

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"Obviously we have an idea of what we are looking towards and, with Racing For Change, we are constantly looking at our best racing and how to market it.

"People already know we are looking at getting in place a season with a climax and that is all premierisation and then when the rights come up, you have a stronger premier product which you can hopefully demonstrate to broadcasters.

"There is certainly no plan that we have been involved with though that involves a Premier League."

Any decision on modifications to either fixtures or tracks will probably be deferred until 2014 at the earliest, as the Government have made the announcement that the Derby and Grand National are fixed to be kept on free-to-air television until that time, after featuring on the 'crown jewels' list of events.

JCR are eager to have that restrictive classification altogether taken off both races to enable the rights to be bought under a competitive tender system.

"Our position is well known on this. We are not saying we want them taken away from the BBC, it's great for them to be on terrestrial TV, but at the same time we want it to be competitive. At the moment it's anti-competitive," said Bowers.

"If you can't negotiate your best deal in any part of business, it hurts you and at the end of the day we want a fair market price.

"The value of our deal with the BBC halved from 2010 to 2012 yet the viewing figures didn't halve, so we just want what is fair."

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