Cheltenham set to lose £100m in revenue with festival taking place behind-closed-doors… while prize-money has also been cut by 25 per cent as region counts the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic
- Cheltenham Festival will take place behind-closed-doors due to the pandemic
- The region is set to lose out on £100million in revenue because of the changes
- The prize-money for the festival has also been cut by 25 per cent from last year
A behind-closed-doors Cheltenham Festival will cost the region an estimated £100million in lost revenue.
Twelve months after the biggest jumps meeting of the year was staged while the Covid-19 pandemic developed, only a few hundred people will be on site over the next four days compared to the usual 250,000 spectators.
In a further blow, prize money for the Festival has been cut by 25 per cent from last year to around £4.5m across the four days, with a £460,000 pot riding on Friday’s Gold Cup.
A behind-closed-doors Cheltenham Festival will cost the region an estimated £100m in lost revenue
Racegoers pictured at last year’s Festival, which attracted crowds of around 250,000
David Jackson of Marketing Cheltenham said: ‘It is estimated to be an impact of £100m revenue to the whole county with an average of 60,000 racegoers a day.
‘Cheltenham is only a large town and the impact is greater on a per-head basis. There is also an impact felt down to Bristol and further west.
‘Tens of thousands of people pass through on the rail network and there is a huge contingent through Bristol Airport from Ireland.
‘This is the fourth biggest sporting event in the country. Normally the timing for the hospitality and visitor sector could not be better, coming off the back of the comparatively quiet January and February. We are talking about a sector which is probably not going to turn a profit for another year or so and it has compounded a very difficult situation. It would have been a huge boost to capitalise on the event, but we all understand why it can’t go ahead in the normal way.’
Prize-money for the festival has been cut by 25 per cent from last year to around £4.5m across the four days
Jockey Club-owned Cheltenham have insurance to cover losses at the meeting, a legacy of the abandoned 2001 Festival because of foot and mouth disease. But that will not alleviate all the financial pain. Ian Renton, the Jockey Club’s regional managing director, said: ‘The cover is limited to that directly affecting the Festival itself.
‘But a huge amount of our revenue comes through areas like membership and box-holders. We suffer all those losses.
‘Jockey Club Racecourses lost £90m in 2020. This year we continue to count the cost of the pandemic with virtually all our streams stopped completely or significantly reduced.’