Ralph Topping, CEO of bookmakers William Hill, has said that the UK racing industry is in need of “immediate and urgent” reform.
Topping’s call came after the company’s turnover on Saturday’s Derby fell by 20 percent.
Quoted in The Telegraph Mr Topping argued that racing’s showpiece race should be restored to a Wednesday fixture when it faces less competition from other activities and sports events.
“How much more of a wake-up call does racing need before genuine reform takes place?” asked Mr Topping.
UK bookmakers contribute 10 percent of their gross profits from UK horseracing the Levy, which helps fund the sport. If betting turnover on UK racing is declining, then the contributions the betting indsutry makes to racing will also fall.
In the past the Levy has sometimes exceeded GB£100m but is expected to be much lower than that this year.
“While racing demands more income, it demonstrates no pragmatism whatsoever,” said Mr Topping. “It must become far more innovative in the scheduling and timing of its races and position itself in order to give media an opportunity to focus on the key events and maximise public interest.”
“It has to change its way of thinking big time and fast – just like Rugby League did, when concluding that it could not take on the Premier League during the winter.”
“The demand for more money from bookmakers is incessant: the willingness to accept that things have to change is absent.”
The racing indsutry has established the Racing for Change initiative to try and boost the appeal of racing amongst the UK public.