Racecourses could close if crowds are not allowed to return in the near future, Goodwood’s Adam Waterworth warned on Saturday, when his track was scheduled to stage a pilot for racegoers.
As many as 5000 people, mostly made up of Goodwood members, were due to attend the fifth and final day of the course’s Glorious meeting as a trial in relation to having crowds back at sporting events.
However, a recent rise in coronavirus cases in Britain meant Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed easing some restrictions, which included the Sussex course’s test day, on Friday.
Waterworth, managing director of sport at the Goodwood Estate, said he was gutted by the announcement and its impact, which will cost one of the world’s finest racing venues a six-figure sum.
On Saturday, he forecast more possible doom if people are not permitted to attend sporting events – something the government had pencilled in for October 1.
Asked on ITV’s The Opening Show programme if some racecourse may have to close, Waterworth said: “You’d like to hope not but the answer to that question depends on how long it goes on for. Can racecourses last one season with no crowds? Hopefully most will be able to last one but if this goes on into next year then I imagine it will have a very serious impact on all courses.
“Small courses obviously face a very difficult period but you must remember for larger courses like ours the overheads are huge. There is still media money coming in but it barely covers the overheads so, even for us, another season like this one will be a real struggle.”
Waterworth, who worked at Huntingdon, Haydock and Doncaster before moving to Goodwood in 2010, added: “The amount of profit we make depends on prize-money. For instance, on Celebration Mile day we might have 10,000 in but we don’t make very much at all because we invest so much into prize-money.
“Glorious Goodwood is 80 per cent of our revenue and we invest a lot of what we make through the year into the infrastructure, to cover overheads and then into prize-money as well.”
- Racing Post