Musselburgh licence to expire but track believes next meeting will be staged
Musselburgh will start next week as a racecourse without a licence to race after a crucial meeting ended with the BHA telling all sides in the track's ongoing civil war that a suitable governance structure must be found if the venue is to again open its doors.
BHA chief executive Nick Rust and Catherine Beloff, the organisation's director of legal and governance, were in Scotland on Friday to talk with representatives of East Lothian Council, the Lothian Racing Syndicate and Musselburgh chief executive Bill Farnsworth, as the crisis at the course reached a new stage.
For months now all parties have known Musselburgh's temporary licence was set to expire on Saturday, and expire it will, following the BHA's decision to reject the council's desire to begin running the racecourse it owns through an associated committee made up of four councillors and two racing experts.
With the governing body keen to see a more harmonious working relationship between the fighting sides, a mutually agreed statement was issued on Friday evening, in which Farnsworth delivered an upbeat message about the track's future.
He said: "Today’s meeting was constructive, and all parties are agreed on what needs to be achieved to move towards a long-term arrangement for the governance of the racecourse.
"We need to discuss more detail and to obtain legal advice, but we have established a positive direction of travel.
"East Lothian Council and the LRS are committed to working over the next three weeks to reach a position where a proposal will be put to the next full meeting of the council on April 24.
"Based on the agreements reached today all parties are confident the BHA will then be in a position to award Musselburgh a licence on April 25 in advance of our next meeting on May 3."
The Racing Post understands the council and LRS will now meet with legal firm Pinsent Masons, whose review into Musselburgh's governance resulted in a series of options, of which one was for the track to be managed by a third party.
Musselburgh's 15 permanent staff have previously warned they will begin moves towards industrial action if forced to become council employees.
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