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BHA reveals monthly savings of £1m as industry battles with coronavirus outbreak

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The BHA has announced savings totalling nearly £1 million a month, including the furloughing of the majority of its staff, as it cuts its financial burden to the embattled racing industry.

British racing's governing body agreed to an emergency financial plan, which will see more than 200 of its 260 staff furloughed under the government's coronavirus job retention scheme.

But despite the measures, the BHA is still working hard behind the scenes to be ready for the resumption of racing on May 1, if such a scenario is possible.

While most of the staff to be furloughed are raceday officials, some staff at the body's headquarters at High Holborn in London are also affected.

All BHA staff, whether working or not, will take salary reductions, with board members also included.

In addition to the furloughing of staff, other savings are to be introduced, reflecting the fact racing in Britain is suspended until at the least the end of April.

These measures are anticipated to save nearly £1 million a month, around a third of the BHA's normal monthly budget.

BHA chair Annamarie Phelps said on Friday: "Our board considered a range of options for how to maintain the most appropriate team that would allow us to carry out our role in the industry’s crisis response. That includes the urgent financial work we are doing alongside industry colleagues, engaging effectively with government and making sure we have the right plan and the right resources in place to start racing again when we can.

"In particular, while the current suspension is to the end of April, we will ensure that racing is ready to resume from May 1 onwards, if it proves possible to do so."

Brant Dunshea: leading the resumption of racing group

Phased resumption expected

The resumption of racing workstream, a group led by the BHA's chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea, is working with other key industry bodies to ensure British racing will be on a footing to resume at the earliest opportunity.

A phased resumption is anticipated, likely behind closed doors, with initial focus to be centred on the Flat.

While the jumps season has yet to officially end, Dunshea suggested jump racing could take longer to resume, and said: "While every
effort will be made to subsequently resume jumping at the earliest opportunity, possibly with the scheduling of some jumpers' bumpers cards, it may assist jumps trainers to judge whether horses can/should be turned out or kept in training." 

The BHA is not the only organisation to reduce overheads, with betting industry content and data provider SIS entering 'hibernation mode'.

A significant number of staff will be furloughed, while all non-essential services will be closed. SIS will continue to supply online content to operators while that content is live but all services to retail operators will be suspended.

Chief executive Richard Ames said: "SIS is moving into an interim period of hibernation in these extraordinary times. I am pleased to be able to confirm that our intention is to come back just as strongly as before and to be back up and running to serve the needs of our customers as soon as live racing content returns to action."

More coronavirus news:

Racecourse closures in Ireland a stark fear as cost of shutdown becomes clearer

Racing backs help package for the self-employed but admits challenges remain

Daily update to help racing industry personnel through the financial crisis

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We will ensure that racing is ready to resume from May 1 onwards, if it proves possible to do so
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