Monday, 28 June 2010

Dixon and Blatter

I read the comments from Paul Dixon about the need to return to a turnover-based levy system with my head in my hands. It's taken me 48 hours to get them out again, and even know I wonder if it is worth writing about which bit of it I found the saddest.

Perhaps it was the particular and pointed exoneration of Sportingbet for paying a voluntary levy suspected to be in five figures, without mention of the voluntary levy paid by Betfair, which is comfortably into seven.

Or maybe it was hearing that notion repeated that a turnover system, which in my view encourages a high margin from operators and therefore will ultimately kill the racing completely in a competitive world, is somehow a lifeline.

I'm not sure. But it reinforced my view that racing continues to be led by people who claim in one breath to want innovation, and then with the next want to pick and choose parts of an innovative model, as if doing so doesn't destroy the whole.

I saw a great Tweet from BBC Sport's Jacqui Oatley this weekend, which read, "Blatter saying there's no need for goal-line technology is like your grandpa saying the internet's pointless."

I would categorise Paul Dixon's comments in the same category, because he insists - in line with racing's other 'leaders' - that the levy is having problems because of the single most notable innovation in betting in the last decade. The reason that the levy is struggling, he says, is that the betting landscape has changed because of "the extraordinary growth of betting exchanges. Exchanges have changed the whole dynamics of betting in recent years and, in particular, they have had a major effect on margins. Indeed, a by-product of returning to a turnover system would deal with the problem that racing has with the exchanges not paying an adequate amount into the Levy in one fell swoop – they would simply be paying a lot more than they are now.”

Leave aside the clear demonstration from this excerpt that the levy debate has nothing at all to do with what is right or logical, and everything to do with the 'we just want more money' attitude that is endemic in racing's upper echelons; and consider instead what that statement is actually saying. If you ask me, it reads, "the betting industry has moved towards the future; racing's response should be to try to stifle its innovation by moving back to the past."

Dixon for the FIFA job, perhaps?

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