Since the start of the week, teams from France Galop have been carefully considering the consequences of the suspension of racing until 15 April, and the containment measures that have been implemented since 17 March.
In this current health crisis, and in addition to the practical problems of living our daily lives in these exceptional circumstances of restricted movement, France Galop and racing professionals face an economic challenge the like of which they have never previously encountered.
Above all, our priority remains the health of our staff and racing professionals.
We are very much aware of the major economic impact of this crisis. We wanted to take urgent measures to support those most at risk, but also to mitigate as much as possible the significant shock of losing our revenue streams. This requires drastic management reappraisals within France Galop, as well as in all the different structures of the sport.
There is also the prospect of special financial assistance from the Government, which we will seek as soon as we can assess the real economic impact on the industry.
Until then, I wanted to inform you of the first steps we have taken, and to explain what our France Galop teams are prioritising in the short term, as well as the impact on the functioning of our services.
France Galop’s first tangible steps to support racing professionals
In the first instance, I wanted to put in place certain measures designed to help you through this difficult period:
- From today, France Galop will stop collecting the access fees to the training centres for horses stabled in the training centres at Chantilly, Deauville and Maisons-Laffitte. This measure will remain in place until at least 1 May. This also extends to regional training centres.
- France Galop is granting trainers who rent their boxes a moratorium on rent payments for as long as racing is suspended.
Finally, financial contributions (such as entry fees for listed and group races, forfeits, declarations, etc.) made by racing professionals in lieu of races that have been cancelled will obviously be refunded in full.
Regarding Government aid that industry stakeholders can obtain
A number of measures exist to alleviate this situation (ie, partial activity, sick-leave in cases of contamination, exemption from charges and taxes, MSA employer contributions). They really can provide relief for your business and I urge you to familiarise yourself with these aids.
All the relevant information is here: http://www.france-galop.com/en/content/coronavirusinfos
What impact does the health crisis have on how France Galop functions and the services it provides to its members?
Since 16 March, French racing has been suspended. Although a replacement racing programme from abroad had been put in place, restrictions allied to the closure of bars and restaurants have shut down PMU outlets across the country. Racing has therefore entered a period defined by a near-total lack of revenue.
The financial repercussions of the paralysis of our industry are already huge, and could get worse if the suspension of racing is prolonged.
In this context, it was decided to implement a business continuity plan that meets the stringent requirements which will ensure the sport’s smooth running, and which will allow the industry to rebound once we have a clearer idea when racing can resume.
At its core at least, this plan involves a complete freeze of expenditure that is not absolutely necessary, the suspension until further notice of investment projects outlined in the budget, and the recourse to short-time working for a large majority of staff at France Galop’s headquarters and of a significant number of racecourse staff, where priority will be given to maintenance of the tracks. We have implemented changes at each of the France Galop centres in order to reduce the number of groundstaff, and to streamline as much as possible salary outgoings at France Galop.
Those in charge of the racing programme are working hard to recalibrate the Flat and jump racing programmes in anticipation of a resumption in the second half of April. They are working in tandem with the Trotting authority to redraft the calendar for the different disciplines in a way that satisfies all parties.
Racing professionals will be consulted on the revised programme through the technical commissions already in place.
The department for professional services will remain open for essential services. The withdrawal of funds and bank transfers are unaffected, as are transfers between racing professionals. However, they will be processed through a staggered procedure, since verifying the original transfer order and its supporting document from home cannot be done. Therefore, the transfer order (and supporting documents if under €3,000) must be scanned and sent via email to the professional service account (email@example.com)
Finally, the passport department will maintain a skeleton staff so that racing professionals can continue to manage the movement of their horses.
The coronavirus crises now affecting the entire world has been as sudden as it has been brutal. It requires us to present a united front in the face of adversity so that we emerge from it as robustly as possible.
Even though contemporary times are plagued by uncertainty, I hope to see you all very quickly back at the races, the absence of which we are already lamenting.
In the meantime, we will keep you informed of unfolding developments, together with the way we will manage the impact of this health crisis.
Edouard de Rothschild