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A sensible move all round with weightier matters lying in wait; COMMENT.

LEVY agreements are getting earlier and earlier, so much so you could almost imagine those involved would rather be trick or treating on the deadline day of October 31. The truth is of a more practical nature for both the betting industry and racing.

It would be the worst thing for everyone involved for the levy to go to culture secretary Sajid Javid for determination.

Given the pressures on the betting industry at the moment, and the big decisions on regulation still to come, it would always have been sensible not to land an unwelcome decision on the minister's desk.

However, neither would racing want a referral, or indeed negotiations, to go all the way to the deadline, given the consultation on levy reform is due to close just five days later.

The fact the deal has been done so early is something of a surprise as there was the expectation in some quarters, given the hawkish comments from the betting industry about racing's performance as a betting product and extension of the levy offshore, it might be a difficult process.

While the deal is hardly earth-shattering in monetary terms, it will be well received by the government and it also means it is at least out of the way so both sides can concentrate on weightier matters of levy extension, modernisation and reform.

Racing will also welcome the big four bookmakers agreeing to underpin the agreement again, although there will be apprehension in racing that there is no news on a second year of the additional voluntary contribution agreed at the time of last year's levy deal.

Mind you, as the money from the first year of the AVC has not started being paid yet, that should not be a great surprise.

Bill Barber, Industry editor

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 19, 2014
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