Will Flutter dispose of anything else?
Mike Deasy on will Flutter sell anything else after Oddschecker, Ascot moves to placate annual members, racecourses opt for vague Covid rules, it still looks like a struggle for the Racing League and more
As predicted by these scribblings back in April, Flutter have divested themselves of Oddschecker, the betting comparison and affiliate site.
The purchaser is Bruin Capital who have initially paid £135m. A tidy sum to help towards Flutter’s US expansion.
The question now is will Flutter sell anything else. They own three betting brands: Betfair, Paddy Power and Sky Bet. And they also own the Sporting Life website and Timeform.
The former underwent a major makeover earlier this year and Timeform have trimmed their print portfolio, not least axing the Racehorses annuals.
Are they both core to Flutter’s business and is three bookmaker brands one too many?
Vague over masks
Racecourses will be delighted that at long last they can welcome back racegoers to each track’s maximum capacity.
At least they’ll not have fingers pointed at them for spreading Covid, as was the case of Cheltenham in 2019.
But, like all enterprises, racecourses have responsibilities for public safety. Some organisations, like Transport for London, will continue to insist that masks must be worn.
Others are following the wishy-washy Government recommendations of ‘we rather hope you will continue to wear masks if you’d be so kind’. The Racecourse Association has adopted the latter. Fat chance of success.
After eight races at Newbury, where mask wearing was a prerequisite, I needed a comfort break. The gentlemen’s facilities were also required by about 15 others. There were only two of us wearing masks.
With infection numbers and hospital admissions increasing rapidly, it’s lamentable that mask wearing rules are so vague.
Is it numbers up for table service?
If, from freedom day, racecourses abandon at seat service for food and drink, waiting staff will sigh with relief. No more having to find the table to match the order, especially at Sandown where they changed the table numbers from one meeting to the next.
At Newbury, there was another problem to overcome. Every time someone opened a door into the Long Room bar, a breeze blew away the sheets with contained each table’s number and QR code. More hunt the table ensued.
Ascot remember annual members
These scribblings recently commented that Ascot were in danger of alienating their annual badge holders by seemingly overlooking their customer loyalty during Covid restrictions.
They gave members the impression they had been forgotten as they apparently did not send advance notification of ticket availability unlike other tracks.
This was followed up by a conversation with the track to that effect, and also how confusing they had made things by having different enclosures in operation with different names from one meeting to the next.
Pleasingly, but probably not down to anything The Racing Hub said or did, annual badge holders started to receive emails offering discounted tickets.
♦ more at http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-6Rw
Still a struggle for League racing
Whilst the upcoming Racing League has assembled a decent line-up of trainers and jockeys for its dozen teams to race in 36 handicaps at four Arc-owned tracks, it’s not been so fortunate in lining up team sponsors.
Back in May we reported they’d signed up four sponsors, with only SportsTalk being a recognisable household name. Now, racecourse hosts Arc have come on board as a sponsor. They may well not be paying full whack.
In the past fortnight the Racing League has let it be known on LinkedIn (Facebook for suits), that there are still team sponsorship opportunities available.
As we said two months ago – it looks like a struggle for the fledgling team competition.
♦more at http://wp.me/s8e3Dl-25345
Post lockdown blues
Racing Hub Towers in sarf London are currently being redecorated, so yours truly has moved to a hotel in the Legal London area. Racing Hub despatches are currently being sent from the hotel, racecourses, trains and pubs, mostly the latter so not much has changed.
But trying to get a copy of the Racing Post is hard work. It was always hit and miss with the local shop but newsagents in central London are virtually non-existent.
WHSmith either don’t get a delivery or have sold out (I’m a late riser). Fortunately it has been possible to buy a copy when at the track.
Not being able to get the Post isn’t the end of the world, but if I’m at a racecourse and find myself Post-less it means I’m going to throw a strop all afternoon.