'Scottish Racecourses risk closure with no fans' - Kelso MD Garratt

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland
Jonathan Garratt hopes to get Scottish government approval for a limited number of spectators to attend Kelso's opening meeting
Jonathan Garratt hopes to get Scottish government approval for a limited number of spectators to attend Kelso's opening meeting

Scotland's five racecourses will face the risk of closure if spectators are kept away, says Kelso managing director Jonathan Garrett.

Racing has been behind closed doors in Scotland since returning on 22 June, while Kelso had hoped to have a partial crowd on 16 September.

But first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said no spectators are allowed at events until 5 October at the earliest.

Garratt predicts Kelso's annual £3.5m turnover will drop by a third.

"The economics are not particularly fruitful," he said.

"We're like a four-stroke engine running on two star at the moment. It's quite difficult.

"Not having crowds at the racecourse also has quite a large impact on the local economy. We normally have around 35,000 to 40,000 spectators [per year] and presently we have no travelling racegoers who might be filling hotels."

Ayr, Hamilton Park, Musselburgh and Perth have all been operating with no crowds amid the Covid-19 pandemic but Garratt argues it is not a sustainable strategy.

"I think you will see concentric circles diminishing industry which would eventually result in closures," he added on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland.

"And the important thing is the loss of the social glue which horseracing brings."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC

Featured