A NEW AND VERY MOODIE ERA FOR VICTORIAN RACING
New Racing Victoria Chairman David Moodie was quick to get on the front foot and tackle the vexed question of conflict of interest, which contributed to the demise of his predecessor Rob Roulston, and was the subject of a speculative editorial piece by News Corp’s Herald Sun racing journalist Matt Stewart last Monday. And like so many aspects of racing, once a can of worms is opened, there is no control over the escapees.
Appearing on Melbourne radio station RSN, the final resting place for advertising funeral homes, and remembering recently departed “Liz” who enjoyed listening to Janis Joplin in her kaftan, Moodie was a tad tetchy when the subject was raised by Shane (Shano) Anderson.
His sensitivity was misplaced and unnecessary. It touched a nerve and possibly a very raw one at that.
Is there anyone in a Boardroom and decision-making environment in Australian racing that isn’t conflicted? In racing, it goes with the territory. It’s about how you deal with it and manage it.
But Moodie’s sensitivities and very loud and public declaration of his allegiance to “acting in the best interests of racing” and his painstaking attempts that went on and on and on at distancing himself from those who are “acting in their own self interest”, has a sense of hollowness about it. It’s like soundbites learnt overnight from the Big Book of Corporate Bollocks- lots of words, no relevance, and light on actual content. It’s, how you say, drivel?
There’s a sense of a “ thou Protesteth too much” about Moodie’s almost-over the-top attempts to prove himself as the saviour of racing, who puts the good of the racing industry over everything else including this pathetically sanctimonious attempt at self sacrifice: “I kind of wish Flamberge hadn’t have won on Saturday (the Group One Goodwood Handicap in Adelaide),because the very first thing I read in the paper today is a question of my independence, that really upsets me because I can tell everyone out there, that in all walks of life …put myself last”.
Huh? Whaaaah? Has Moodie been dancing with “Liz” again while on Blue Cheer?
What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man, Victorian racing’s David Moodie is- a man who is prepared to sacrifice his $320,000 prize money cheque to prove his credentials as a man of independence preserving his good name – and all for the cause of the racing industry. Extraordinarily self-effacing to say the least and reminiscent of the sacrifices made in biblical times by saints, apostles and their coterie of holy men and women. May he long be a role model for current and aspiring racing administrators.
For more on this extraordinary racing administrator’s nauseating repetitious attempts to plead and reassure the racing industry that “we are all here for the good of the industry, not for our own self interest and you will lead the charge on that”, please go to Racing Victoria’s racing.com website and access Tom Biddington’s report last Monday on David Moodie’s interview with Shano.
It’s an extraordinarily revealing and riveting read. Just wonder if he kept a straight face during the radio interview.
MEDIA RIGHTS PUT ON HOLD ….AGAIN.
David Moodie’s ascension to the position of Chairman of Racing Victoria has given Sky Channel and Tabcorp an eleventh hour reprieve in their protracted bid to win the coveted Victorian racing media rights.
The news- and which we reported last week- was that the Seven Network was in pole position to broadcast Victorian racing on one of their-free to-air and digital channels, cutting Sky largely out of the equation.
The new Seven Network Channel and presentation would have been a more professional incarnation of the ill-fated and doomed before lift-off TVN and the current ‘live’ broadcasts from that dog’s breakfast that is racing.com.
The Seven Network had managed to steer itself into a position where the media rights holders – the Victorian metropolitan race clubs and the country sector- were on the cusp of signing off on a historic decision to fund a channel to take Victorian racing away from its mothership wagering operating partner Tabcorp, and partner with a free-to-air network while separately retaining digital, online and international rights which would then be on-sold to wagering operators and international racing jurisdictions and wagering operators.
It’s a strategy that makes lots of commercial sense and would set the Victorian racing industry up into a very strong financial position for the future- a future where the benefits of the continuing and exciting evolution of technology would be maximized and exploited for the good of racing.
It is a strategy that was even recognized by David Moodie who acknowledged this in his RSN interview when asked about the rival bids from Sky/Tabcorp and the Seven Network.
“We’re talking here about 10-20 years of where this industry is heading – it’s not simply just about dollars. There’s a gap between what the industry would receive from Tabcorp and what the industry would have to put in to do the Seven deal but the debate really boils down to the future of the industry”. And then “If you get racing on free-to-air 365 days, what does it do to wagering? It’s going to involve more eyeballs, it’s going to involve more engagement, it’s going to drive more participation. It’s going to lift the profile of the industry, particularly if there’s cross promotion on Seven”. And later: “It (media rights) will come to a conclusion but we, as a collective industry in this State, have a chance to do something positive and ground breaking and get it right”. One almost expected him to burst into “Nights In White Satin”.
All these were pretty powerful statements from someone who we are told is a strong ally of Tabcorp and an equally strong adversary of the now defunct industry broadcaster TVN.
As one of Victoria’s leading owners and breeders, Moodie also has ties with some of the movers and shakers in NSW. His statements on media rights can be taken at face value, and as part of a strategy to up the bid from Tabcorp to a figure which would give him sufficient manoeuvring room to knock the rival Seven option out of the ring.
Whatever the outcome, Moodie will have a Spanish inquisition like cross examination when the successful bid is announced- particularly if the Tabcorp/Sky bid is the winner. And Moodie had better get hold of one seriously good spin doctor of Rahm Emmanuel or Max Clifford proportions if that is the case.
It is an open secret that David Moodie is viewed with suspicion by many in the upper echelons of the Victorian racing power structure.
One bad move and he could be another victim of the insidious game of political power plays which he himself would be all too familiar with.
Coincidentally, Moodie’s predecessor- Rob Roulston- according to our sources, was close to signing off on the Seven bid when he was deposed at what appears to be an eleventh hour stay of execution for the Tabcorp/Sky bid.
Could there be something more sinister in play in the timing of Roulston’s demise?
Whatever the outcome of the media rights saga, which again portrays the inability of the Victorian racing industry to engage in and deliver decisive decision making outcomes when the chips are well and truly down, the political knives will be sharpened, and yet another unedifying public spat will drag the industry down even further. And for all the wrong reasons.
IS THE VRC HEADING DOWN THE AJC ROAD TO NOWHERE?
It is difficult to comprehend how the VRC, who like to beat their chests and self-proclaim their status as Australia’s best racing club-
if not sporting club- can remain a proverbial ship without a rudder for so very long – well over a year to be precise.
In so many ways, the VRC reminds us of the malaise that preceded the decline of the AJC, arguably, at the time, Australia’s best racing club. The parallels are chilling and should send shock waves through the hierarchies of Victorian racing and the VRC itself.
The buck, as always, stops with the Boards and Committees of racing and sporting clubs, and ultimately with their leaders, and in this instance with their Chairman Michael Burn.
The VRC as of today has gone well past its first anniversary of being without a Chief Executive. It is on its second attempt at a head hunting process for a new CEO, and has had a touch of Lotto-like good fortune that its executive team has risen above the internal turmoil and delivered a year of growth and success for the Club.
But lady luck has run out, with some high profile senior managers bailing out and more to follow.
Like the AJC, the VRC has a host of serious challenges ahead of it.
Like the AJC, the VRC needs to find millions of dollars to fund a new members stand to replace the existing structure which has outlived its long life span.
It has to rationalize its assets and adapt to the inevitability of a possible merger with its neighbour – the Moonee Valley Racing Club- the most financially vulnerable of Melbourne’s three race clubs, and whose future is again the subject of speculation.
And with speculation gaining momentum about a complete overhaul of the governance structure of Victorian racing- and the brawling that will inevitably occur whichever way the media rights issue is resolved- the VRC will be forced to operate in an environment where devolution of power and authority will change the landscape forever.
It is a landscape which the VRC will resist, but ultimately will be forced to accept.
It is a challenge which will be all the more difficult considering its state of self-inflicted and all-expenses paid siesta it has been operating in over the past year or more.
The new CEO will need to be a conqueror of Kilimanjaro to compensate for the impotence- and, well, George Castanza-type shrinkage- of decision-making at the highest level.