Can someone please explain to me how we as an industry can develop a product, namely Formnet, invest time and money in doing so and agree to cede the software and operating system to a third party who can then threaten us with withdrawing the facility if we don’t pay for its usage?
This is the stuff of training videos that show how not to succeed in business. You know the ones where the characters are so unbelievably bad at what they do it makes doing the right things so much easier to understand.
Well as far fetched as it seems past custodians of our industry, the GBGB together with the executive powers of the track promoters have conspired to do just that and we now find ourselves in another self inflicted battle that has far reaching consequences.
Formnet, putting it simply, is a software system that has a two fold purpose. Firstly it populates the GBGB registry with the names of greyhounds and their details and secondly it provides the form lines for every greyhound trialling and racing and allows the production of race cards that are so familiar at every track. There is no workable alternative to this system and therefore we are totally reliant upon it.
Poor negotiation and lack of commercial awareness from previous individuals holding power within the industry has led to this situation. We now have a third party, BAGS, who has ownership of the system. They are a non profit making company but believe the annual development of the system requires substantial funding. Now I’m not disputing there is a cost involved but you could set up an IT department of five highly paid developers for the amount BAGS want. So how much development does this system need?
What makes it worse is that the proposed contract allows them to pull the plug on any user with very little notice and with no reason. If BAGS became insolvent or its shareholders decided to wind up the operation Formnet could be sold on to cover costs and then it might find its way into the hands of a business who might be far more greedy in their licence fee requirements and where would that leave us?
The GBGB have remained silent whilst this battle unfolds and the executive of the promoters, some of whom were party to the original negotiations, have done their best to justify the stance BAGS are taking rather than defend the position of the promoters they are representing. in my view this is just not good enough. The security of the industry is at stake here and those promoters who have been let down by the powers to be have every right to ask the question how has this been allowed to happen?
I fear that question will never be answered but the GBGB must act now in a way that protects the future of greyhound racing. What we need is long term security. The GBGB needs to engage and then structure a commercial deal with BAGS that delivers this for the industry and guarantees that in the eventuality BAGS ceases to exist, Formnet reverts to the GBGB and thereby for the benefit of our sport.
Rather than silence let’s see some positive action and get this mess sorted out!