The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has given the green light for events to resume at Musselburgh Racecourse after an eleventh hour plea by bosses was finally approved on Friday afternoon.
Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee (MJRC) were given until 5pm on Thursday to agree to an “independent governance review” or face being barred from hosting race days, putting the upcoming July 14 meeting in jeopardy.
MJRC chief, councillor Willie Innes, originally called for a meeting of committee members - made up of four representatives from East Lothian Council and three from the Lothian Racing Syndicate (LRS) - next Tuesday, but a late decision was made to postpone discussions after no objections to a review were raised.
And BHA officials eventually issued a new temporary licence allowing racing at the historic course to continue until the end of the year after considering their verdict overnight.
In a statement, the sport’s governing body said: “We can confirm that Musselburgh Racecourse has been issued with a temporary licence until 31 December 2017.”
“This follows agreement from the MJRC and East Lothian Council that an independent governance review should take place, with a nine-month timeline for completion and implementation of recommendations.
“Having had the opportunity to clarify some issues with the MJRC, the BHA is satisfied that its licence condition has now been met and as a consequence, Musselburgh’s forthcoming fixtures on 14 and 25 July can go ahead.”
Cllr Innes said he “welcomed” the confirmation that upcoming race meetings would go ahead, adding: “I also welcome the BHA’s decision and will continue to progress matters positively in order to safeguard the future of racing at Musselburgh.”
Staff initially threatened strike action in April after passing two votes of no confidence in the MJRC leadership, prompting BHA officials to only issue a temporary licence allowing the course to continue hosting events.
However it expired on June 30, leaving more than 150 employees fearing for their futures as they awaited news of negotiations.
Musselburgh Racecourse chief executive Bill Farnsworth said he was “relieved” the licence had finally been issued, adding: “We are aware recent events have caused much uncertainty in the racing industry and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
“We would urge racing fans, owners and trainers to support Musselburgh at this meeting as we seek to find a long-term solution to this unfortunate situation.
“We hope the proposed independent governance review will create a modern blueprint which puts the interests of the racecourse first and prevents any similar situation from arising in the future.”
LRS member John Prideaux said: “We are committed to working with MJRC members to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone who has supported Musselburgh over the years.”