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A sub-committee of the Levy Board has recommended that a minimum of £10 million is allocated to marketing racing and betting in Britain over the next three years, it was announced today.

The aim is to boost racecourse attendances by one million before 2004, sponsorship by 20 per cent per annum and achieve year on year growth in betting turnover on horse racing.

A team of three marketing executives representing the British Horseracing Board, the betting industry and the Levy Board, will be appointed shortly to develop a detailed marketing plan by the end of April and, for the first year, £3m has been set aside to fund the team's agreed initiative.

Sir John Robb, Levy Board deputy chairman and chairman of the eight-person marketing sub committee, said: "It is widely recognised in the horseracing industry that a more co-ordinated and focused marketing effort is needed. This will benefit the whole industry.

"I am delighted that the Levy Board has agreed in principle to a budget of £10m over three years. This will support the self-help initiatives which are so important if the sport is to achieve the important objective of attracting new money to it."

Ladbroke's Chris Bell and Tote chairman Peter Jones are members of the marketing sub-committee and funding will be coming from the estimated £61m Levy deal agreed last year.

Robb said: "This marketing initiative has demonstrated that racing and betting can work in unison for the benefit of the whole industry and I am confident the marketing plan, when published, will further confirm this encouraging level of co-operation."

Jones added: "This is an investment for racing. It should produce more money if it is spent wisely. Both racing and betting are in need of shots in the arm, especially betting."

The broad strategy aims to build racing as a brand to compete in the wider leisure market and to co-ordinate the racing and betting industry's existing marketing initiatives.

It also aims to broaden racing's market to attract "irregular" and younger racegoers.

"Racing and betting relies on a very small group of customers for its business," said Robb. "There is a heck of a lot to do to move the profile to encourage a broader spectrum of the population. If not racing will find itself in difficulties in a few years time."

The minimum £10m investment aims to increase racecourse attendances from five million to six million in three years and achieve year on year increases in betting turnover in the hope that racing can retain a 70 per cent share of betting overall.

A 20 per cent annual rise in sponsorship income was agreed to be a "reasonable, but stiff" goal.

The group identified four stakeholders in racing, racegoers, betting shop punters, owners and sponsors, with the breeding industry as a grouping that could be explored in the longer term.

The overall plan is to better inform potential racegoers of what racing is taking place and to "demystify" the sport.

To cultivate betting shop punters, the intention is to emphasise that shops today have a more social atmosphere while a centralised sponsorship unit may be created to boost racing's income.

The committee declined to develop a strategy for increasing ownership as it was claimed that existing marketing data in this area is "confusing".

The British Horseracing Board gave their support to the Levy Board's announcement.

BHB Chief Executive Tristram Ricketts said: "We welcome the Levy Board's increased financial commitment to marketing and its recognition that this commitment needs to be sustained over a period of years if marketing initiatives are to have an impact.

"Much of the Levy Board's marketing strategy reflects the recommendations of the independent report which the BHB commissioned from MH&P last year and published in December.

"We welcome explicit recognition from the Levy Board that the BHB is the body responsible for the marketing plan for racing.

"The BHB's Marketing Consultant, Teresa Cash, is taking the lead in putting together such a plan within the strategic framework defined by the Levy Board.

"The plan is already being drawn up in consultation with other industry bodies and Teresa will maintain close contact both with the bookmakers' nominee, when the person is identified, and with the Levy Board's independent consultant when appointed."