Racecourse Media Group (RMG) chief executive Richard FitzGerald has announced that he will step down from the role “gradually” over the next six weeks, with finance director Martin Stevenson to take over as acting chief executive.
FitzGerald joined RMG, which is responsible for media and data rights for the UK and Ireland’s major racecourses, in September 2008.
During his tenure he oversaw initiatives such as the relaunch of Racing UK (later Racing TV) as standalone channel, an exclusive domestic TV rights deal with ITV and the launch of Racing TV International for overseas operators.
RMG noted that the ITV deal has yielded “impressive” viewing figures and acted as a “shop window” for British racing, providing more than 100 days of live action on a free-to-air channel, more than any other sport.
“It has been a great journey and I have enjoyed working with a strong, capable, committed and stable team to deliver the results we have been able to achieve consistently over the last decade,” FitzGerald said.
In addition, FitzGerald presided over the launch of RMG’s Watch & Bet streaming service, a pubs and clubs deal with Sky Business, and the launch of Racing UK’s HD product.
“On behalf of the Board of RMG, I thank Richard for his exceptional leadership of the RMG team for almost 12 years,” Roger Lewis, chairman of RMG, said. “During this period RMG has produced great returns for our Racecourses, generating over £800m of licence fees during his tenure of office.
“The recent renewal of the RMG contract with ITV until 2023, the successful launch of our new Watch & Bet Service in June, and ensuring RMG is fully operational following the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and so generating significant revenues for our racecourses, has created the right moment for Richard to announce his decision to step down.
“Richard leaves RMG with our sincerest thanks and best wishes for having delivered an outstanding performance over a considerable period of time.”
FitzGerald echoed this sentiment, saying that the resumption of racing in the UK, made it the perfect time to step down.
“It has been a fabulous and rewarding 12 years working for RMG,” he said. “The business has flourished and delivered on the vision of the founding shareholders around a collective approach to commercialising their media and data rights.
“There is never a good time to step down but with resumption of racing, the new Watch & Bet deals, the terrestrial TV renewal and launch in Italy of fixed odds, and a new cycle of renewals starting shortly, it seems the right time to step down.”
FitzGerald was previously chief executive of Premier League club Aston Villa from 2006-2008 and sat on the management board of the 2006 Doha Asian Games’ host broadcast service, while he also worked at sports entertainment business IMG for 18 years.
Finance director Martin Stevenson will take on the role of acting chief executive. Stevenson previously worked as finance director and deputy managing director of the Trinity Mirror Sports Division as well as finance director of the Newspaper Licensing Agency.