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Musselburgh at crisis point with licence set to run out on Friday

Musselburgh's licence to race expires on Friday
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Musselburgh was on Thursday moving ever closer to being a racecourse on which racing is not permitted to take place as it emerged the BHA is yet to approve an extension to the licence which expires on Friday.

The failure of East Lothian council leader Willie Innes to support the sanctioning of an independent review into the governance of the local authority-owned venue has placed its future in doubt.

Unless the BHA becomes satisfied the racecourse is being properly run, the fixture on July 14 will not be allowed to take place.

Innes took over as chairman of the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee that, in effect, controls the track following last month's local elections, in which former MJRC head John Caldwell, whose relationship with the three racing appointees to the body had completely broken down, lost his seat.

Hopes had been high Caldwell's exit would lead to a brighter future for the racecourse, but to the disappointment of the Lothian Racing Syndicate, which provides the three racing members who sit alongside four councillors on the MJRC, the standoff between Innes and the BHA has led to one of the sport's most progressive sites facing a precarious future.

The Queen was a visitor to Musselburgh last year

The ongoing failure of the MJRC to agree a budget had led the BHA to giving Musselburgh only a temporary licence until the end of June.

In order to approve a further six-month extension of that licence, it is thought the BHA has insisted the MJRC sets in motion an independent governance review, with the company chosen to carry it out agreed by both the MJRC and BHA.

The Racing Post understands Innes has said a minute of agreement, a legal procedure between two parties regularly used in Scotland, prevents the MJRC giving its backing to such a move.

"The uncertainty over the racecourse licence is detrimental to Musselburgh racecourse," said LRS chairman John Prideaux.

"I can fully understand the BHA's position, whereby it needs assurances that there is adequate governance.

"The sooner we are in a position to assuage the BHA's concerns the better, and the LRS is more than willing to play its part in ensuring a more stable future for Musselburgh racecourse."

Line Of Reason: won the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh earlier this month

While Musselburgh's licence runs out on Friday, it would still be possible for the July 14 meeting to be staged, so long as a new licence is in place at some point before then.

However, senior racing figures at the venue believe the uncertainty over whether or not a fixture will be held would, in itself, damage the racecourse's reputation and inflict considerable commercial harm.

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "We remain in ongoing discussions with the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee regarding the racecourse’s licence. The process must be confidential but we are hopeful of achieving a satisfactory and timely resolution." 

Council must see sense if marvellous asset is not to be wasted

I can fully understand the BHA's position, whereby it needs assurances that there is adequate governance

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