British Horseracing Authority

In November Harman to Step Down as BHA Chairman

Harman will take on new role on gambling issues affecting horse racing.

British Horseracing Authority chairman Steve Harman, who had been the subject of an investigation looking into a conflict of interest, will leave that position to take up a new industry-wide role to engage with government to represent the industry on levy issues.

Harman will step down from his role as BHA chairman in November. A formal process to recruit a new BHA chairman will start shortly, according to a May 22 release from the racing regulator.

The BHA board had looked into a conflict of interest between Harman and businessman Alex Frost, chief executive of the Alizeti consortium, who is expected to invest in the Tote. In March, the London Times reported the relationship, which included Harman welcoming Frost as a lunch guest at a hospitality suite at Cheltenham.

In the same May 22 release in which it announced Harman would step down from his role as chairman, the BHA said an independent review for its board found no conflict of interest.

"The BHA Board has now set aside the Article 51 complaint against Mr. Harman," the release said. "Mr. Harman has apologized for inaccuracies in his initial explanations to the Board relating to an article in the Times newspaper."

A BHA spokesman added: "We are pleased this matter has now been closed and we can focus on the BHA's core responsibilities of the regulation and governance of British Racing."

Harman's new role, which will begin late this year, will allow him to focus on the industry's biggest financial priority: levy development with Westminster and other gambling issues that could impact racing.

"This is the single biggest issue facing our industry and I welcome the opportunity to galvanize support to get the best possible deal for horseracing," Harman said. "This could mean a further reform of the levy to capture overseas betting and other changes we could seek to ensure that the funding of racing is secured for the future."

Earlier this month the government reduced the maximum wagers on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, a move the industry said could threaten £40 million to £60 million annually in industry revenue.

"The potential impact of reducing revenue to racing because of the FOBT announcement is a major issue for the industry," said BHA shareholders in a statement. "It is vital that we work together across the sport and with government to make the appropriate changes to ensure the future funding of the sport."