Potential new operators of Musselburgh Racecourse warned not to rebrand as 'Edinburgh'

The new operators of Musselburgh Racecourse have been warned not to try and rebrand it as Edinburgh by members during a packed meeting.

Potential new owners at Musselburgh Racecourse warned not to rebrand as 'Edinburgh'
Potential new owners at Musselburgh Racecourse warned not to rebrand as 'Edinburgh'

More than 60 people turned up to hear East Lothian Council announce Chester Race Company as its preferred bidder in the race to take over managing the course.

And while negotiations between the company and the local authority were described as at a very early stage, members were in no doubt about one thing – the name.

Former chairman of Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee Pat O’Brien told the new operators: “Don’t try and relocate the racecourse and call it Edinburgh, it is Musselburgh and East Lothian and must remain that.”

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His comment was met with a round of applause from the audience who were, at times, frustrated by the lack of information available about what would happen when the new operators come in.

Carlos Grilli, East Lothian Council’s legal manager, announced the new operator to the meeting but warned there was little additional information. He said: “We are not going to rush this process, we want to make sure when the new operator comes in everything has been done right.”

And as he faced questions about why a new operator had been needed, he added: “There is no point in looking back, this is about the future.”

The racecourse was managed until last year by Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee which was made up of three elected East Lothian councillors and two members of Lothians Racing Syndicate.

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However, relations between the two parties deteriorated and the British Horseracing Authority stepped in threatening to withdraw its racing licence unless a review of its governance was carried out.

The council, which owns the land the racecourse is on, replaced the committee with a new Musselburgh Racing Associated Committee(MRAC) which has four councillors and two racing experts on it and agreed to find a third party operator to take over its management.

Staff at the course were informed of the preferred bidder before a public meeting where the announcement was made in the Queen’s Stand.

Chester Racecourse is the oldest course operating in the world and was established in 1539.

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The company which runs it also owns Bangor-On-Dee racecourse and estimates that it generates over £54million in spending each year in its local economy while supporting nearly 1,000 jobs.