Search on for new board for Ballina Jockey Club

BALLINA Jockey Club's board of directors has been forced to step aside and Racing NSW has appointed an administrator to the club as it grapples with debts of about $200,000.


UPDATE: 12.45pm: THE FORMER chair of the Ballina Jockey Club board says an upgraded track would have prevented the current financial difficulties facing the club.

Dr Robert Jemison said if the club had a StrathAyr track, similar to the surface of Queensland's Mackay Turf Club, it would not be in its current financial position.

He estimated a StrathAyr grass track with excellent drainage would cost $4 million.

"You give us a decent track and we will be able to trade our way out of the current situation," he said.

Dr Jemison said the club had lost revenue over the past year because one third of its race meetings had been washed out, races that could have been run on a StrathAyr track.

He said the costs of running a race club had jumped and revenues were declining.

"Revenue comes from the TAB, it doesn't come from people through the gate," he said.

"That revenue is static at best and declining at worst. At the same time our costs have gone up considerably."

Examples of rising costs include $1500 a day for an ambulance, up from $300 five years ago, and workers com- pensation insurance had risen from $5000 to $50,000 a year.

"Electricity, power, water, rates; everything has gone up," Dr Jemison said.

HELP: Racing NSW has stepped into the breach for financially strapped Ballina Jockey Club.
HELP: Racing NSW has stepped into the breach for financially strapped Ballina Jockey Club.

11.30am: RACING NSW has taken the reins of the Ballina Jockey Club after the Board of Directors was forced to step down yesterday to keep the club financially viable.

With the club in its centennial year, Racing NSW will appoint an administrator to manage debts of about $200,000.

Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys said the Ballina Jockey Club requested additional funding above the current level to manage its finances.

"In order for us to fund the club we needed to have the current board stand aside," Mr V'landys said.

"We sent our own people (from Racing NSW) up there to have a look and we believe it would have been too difficult for the club to trade out of its current situation the way they were performing."

Mr V'landys said the financial difficulties were due to "a variety of reasons", not only washed-out race meetings.

He said the general manager of Racing NSW Country, Brian Judd will work with former Ballina Jockey Club board chair Bob Jemison to select new board members from around the region who will work with Racing NSW to steer the club.

"We will be appointing an interim board and having the CEO that is currently there continue the operation of the Ballina club and we will give it the necessary financial assistance to get it through this rough patch," he said.

"The paramount objective for us is to ensure the Ballina Jockey Club becomes solvent and continues to operate into the future and we want to invest in ensuring that objective comes to fruition."

The jockey club issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying the financial position of the club and the deterioration of its reserves had been made clear to members of the club and Racing NSW in detail over the past four years.

"The fact is that fixed and operational costs of country race clubs are increasing at a rate that far exceeds any potential increase in revenue," the statement said.

"In the interest of all participants and stakeholders in country racing the need for rationalisation is urgent."

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