Prepare for the biggest change you have ever experienced in greyhound racing. In the short to medium term at least, the sport is about to become awash with cash and much of it will be heading to owners and trainers!
No – the editor is not blitzed off his face (again!) It is the only logical conclusion from last week’s announcement that Central Park and Henlow have secured SIS contracts for 2018.
Regular readers will be aware of the on-going battle to broadcast greyhound racing to the betting industry. More resilient readers over the last two decades will recall various predictions that owners and trainers will never get a decent reward until there is sufficient demand for their runners. Basic – supply and demand.
Put the two together and you arrive at a very exciting period.
By signing up Henlow and Central Park, (there will be more to follow), SIS have basically signalled that they are ready to go to war with their commercial rivals – ARC.
SIS already own the Coral and Ladbrokes tracks’ content. They are still looking for additional content (tracks not signed up to the Greyhound Media Group). The likeliest contenders would have to be the likes of Harlow and Doncaster.
SIS race meetings will go into the Coral-Ladbrokes shops, and probably Betfred. The Greyhound Media Group tracks already have BAGS contracts, and now have five year deals with ARC. They will supply the 55% of the remaining betting shops.
But this is when it gets interesting. What if the Coral-Ladbrokes group decide to strengthen their position by poaching trainers/greyhounds from their neighbours?
There is no spare slack in the greyhound industry. The only way to do it is with increased benefits for trainers and owners.
‘Do you want to join us?’
What’s it worth?
Make it ££££ and I’ll think about it
But we can’t afford for you to leave!
Pay me £££££ and I’ll think about staying
We are dealing with massive hitters here. SIS has the financial clout of the big bookmakers. ARC has the clout of the 60th richest businessmen in the world, the Reuben brothers.
Sooner or later, one side will prevail. But until they do, they will be fighting their battles with cheque books.
It won’t all be rosey. There will be uncertainty and changes. What, for example, will happen to the live SKY racing? It is currently paid for by BAGS and broadcast by SIS. If BAGS lose nearly have of their income, will they cut back? The same could be said about the Track Championship.
On the other hand, quality should endure.
Go next door and they are showing ten A6 graded races. Come into our shop and we have variety and quality on offer. Or watch it from home on our app.
How a big a role will Towcester play, with its glowing reputation, massive, high quality racing strength and attractive fixture list? The days of the betting industry trying to freeze them out are surely over!
As I come to the conclusion of an Editors Chair that I have waited 30 years to write, I ask readers to put aside the well-worn phrase ‘the game is finished’.
Greyhound racing might only account for 7% of betting shop yield, but that is only 1% less than football. It earns the bookies around a third as much as horse racing (20%), but is twice as lucrative per bet struck.
(Sure it doesn’t compare to the FOBT machines – 56% – but who is to say what their future holds in the coming months?)
All of this with a product whose export potential across the globe has hardly been touched.
I know we have a great industry.
You know we have a great industry.
Derby night punters either discovered, or remembered, what a fantastic product this really is.
The bookies have known it the whole time – they are about to start paying a fair price for it.