Boost for Musselburgh as BHA extends its licence to cover Flat season
The BHA has granted Musselburgh a further extension to its racing licence until the end of its Flat season on October 16.
The licence has been granted on the basis that the BHA is provided with regular updates on the steps being taken to implement a long-term governance structure for the track, with the aim of this being in place by the end of 2018.
A working group has been established with membership from the three political groups on East Lothian Council, Lothians Racing Syndicate and staff representation, to explore two options which would see the racecourse becoming an "arm’s length external organisation" of East Lothian Council or being put out to tender for operation by a third party.
Law firm Pinsent Masons, which carried out a governance review, is providing support to the group in its deliberations. The group is due to make its recommendation by the next meeting of East Lothian Council on June 26.
Fiona O’Donnell, chair of the new Musselburgh Racecourse Associated Committee, said: “This is a further positive step in securing a long-term solution in the best interests of Musselburgh racecourse. Racegoers, staff, owners and trainers now have certainty for the remainder of the Flat season.”
Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth said: “I'm very pleased progress is being made in determining the future governance of the racecourse and that the BHA has seen fit to grant a licence extension until the end of our Flat season.
"There is still a lot of work to be done but, with co-operation and mutual understanding, the interested parties can produce a framework which will be acceptable to the BHA and which secures the long-term future of Musselburgh racecourse.”
Miles Briggs MSP, who represents Musselburgh as a Lothian regional MSP and is also convenor of the parliament’s cross-party group on Scottish horseracing said: “The extension of Musselburgh’s racing licence by the BHA until the end of its Flat season in October is very welcome and provides certainty for the rest of the season.
“It is important now that the working group established to determine the future governance arrangements of Musselburgh racecourse develops a solution that is sustainable and enduring and allows it to flourish in the long term.
"I remain in contact with the Scottish government on this matter and am still pushing for the minister for sport Aileen Campbell to convene cross-party talks involving all the relevant stakeholders to discuss the way forward."
He added: “Musselburgh racecourse is a huge asset for the town and the wider Lothian area, and the contribution it makes to the local economy is significant.
"I look forward to the long-term governance issues affecting the course being properly settled so we can all focus on supporting the talented management and staff at the course as they seek to build on the success it has enjoyed in recent years.”
Explaining their issuing of another temporary licence, the BHA said in a statement: "This follows the expiration of the racecourse's previous temporary licence on May 5.
"The BHA board remains of the view that it is in the interests of the racecourse and the wider sport for a temporary licence to be issued for this period.
"The temporary licence means the racecourse's fixtures during the remainder of the 2018 Flat season can go ahead as scheduled.
"An update regarding the state of Musselburgh's racecourse licence beyond October 16 will be provided nearer the time."
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