Queensland clubs face big losses

neville bell
Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell says the club will lose millions of dollars.

Queensland’s major race clubs will lose millions in revenue and sponsorship and shed hundreds of staff after the winter carnival was scrapped.

The clubs say they are disappointed the carnival will not go ahead but understand tough decisions have had to be made.

The winter racing has been abandoned because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be replaced by metropolitan races and some feature events.

The move will free up $9 million prize money which the clubs hope will be put back into the industry on a relief package.

But the major clubs will shed at least 500 casual and full-time staff and face joint losses running into the millions.

Racing Queensland also announced it would implement new zones for the state’s racing industry from this weekend, banning movements of horses between these zones.

Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell said the decision to scrap the winter carnival was obviously disappointing for sponsors, members and the public.

“The BRC has always supported the health of our society and our industry in any measures taken in recent weeks,” he said.

“We understand the seriousness of this situation. And we’re not in this situation alone.”

Bell said the announcement would have a significant financial impact on the club of around $3 million in sponsorship and revenue loss.

“We face tough decisions as we review our immediate operational costs to ensure that we are acting responsibly in these coming months,” he said.

Gold Coast Turf Club chief executive Steve Lines said as a major function centre as well as racing precinct the club had been hit hard.

“We have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars already and it is heart-breaking to be laying off staff,” Lines said.

“That isn’t to mention the impact on our loyal sponsors who have supported us for years.

“But it is important to keep going and at least having some revenue income.

“We will all need some type of financial support and we aren’t the only ones affected.”

The Sunshine Coast Turf Club chairman Peter Boyce said it was a tough time which called for tough decisions.

“We feel for the entire industry at this time but it is vital we keep going,” he said.

The Ipswich Turf Club has already announced a reduced Cup meeting in June and is hoping for a big Spring Cup meeting in September to boost its income.