O’Leary still fears reduced Irish coverage
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has warned against the coverage of Irish racing being “shoved down some internet pipe” as a result of a new television deal which starts on January 1st.
Racing UK is set to take over the broadcasting of Irish racing from At The Races next year, and at the weekend released proposed coverage details under a rebranded Racing TV label.
The move to a subscription channel has proved controversial since it was announced last February. At that time O’Leary described it as a retrograde step which would be bad for Irish racing.
Yesterday Ireland’s champion owner maintained that was still his view, but insisted the deal was complete and it was time now to make the best of it.
Widespread fears that Irish racing will be relegated in priority next year won’t have eased with Racing UK ’s announcement that up to 15 days will only be available online on an extra digital platform.
“Anything that involves less air time for Irish racing is generally bad for Irish racing. Now, unfortunately, whatever Racing TV does some Irish meetings are going to be covered on a laptop,” O’Leary said.
“Hopefully they will do a reasonable job promoting the main racing. Your fear is that apart from the big days, Irish racing will be subservient to analysis of Fontwell, Fakenham and all that stuff.
“But there’s no point opposing it: if that’s the way it’s going, that’s the way it’s going. There really isn’t much HRI [Horse Racing Ireland] can do about it.
“They’ve signed up a television contract. That television contract has moved to Racing TV. I think we’re duty bound to give a platform and a reasonable amount of time.
“The one thing in favour of Irish racing is that we run our big days on Sunday, so that should be reasonably well covered because the best English racing tends not to happen on Sunday.
Michael O’Leary: “We need to stop whining about it and let’s get on with it”
“The worry is the coverage of Thurles on Thursday and the industry day at Fairyhouse on a Tuesday – what kind of coverage will that get? It will be important that Irish racing continues to be on a TV channel and not shoved down some internet pipe.
“But it’s like everything else, everyone was opposed to Sky when it came in and they’ve transformed football. At The Races did a phenomenal job promoting Irish racing. But it’s gone. We need to stop whining about it and let’s get on with it.”