The Greyhound Board of Great Britain unveiled their first wave of greyhound ambassadors at a meeting in Central London on Thursday evening writes Floyd Amphlett.
Just under two dozen greyhound enthusiasts from a variety of different backgrounds and blessed with a wide range of talents and abilities, met for the first time.
In his introduction, the scheme’s innovator, GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird, outlined the role of the ambassadors, with reference to their potential benefit to the industry.
He began by referencing the disastrous events surrounding the release of the injury and euthanasia statistics earlier in the year. The board had taken a decision not to engage a seemingly loaded TV debate only to see ageing and controversial TV pundit John McCrirrick volunteer for the role.
The result was a PR ‘car crash’.
While emphasising that the ambassadors are not under the control of his organisation, he felt that several of their number would have more adequately represented the passion and integrity of the pro greyhound lobby.
He stressed that any potential media role for the ambassadors would likely to be comparatively small. However anyone who was willing to take it, would be fully furnished with all the relevant information and data.
However, the group’s fundamental role was as ‘advocates, to promote what the sport is all about’.
Comment: Beneath the veneer of enlisting a group of part-time industry PR enthusiasts, Mark Bird seems to be making a much bigger statement. Although he is not inviting his ambassadors into his boardroom, he is inviting them to observe its operations through a previously non-existent window.
The key is not necessarily the appointments, as the identity of those appointed. There were few wallflower among them. They include some of the industry’s most vocal, respected and passionate reformers, many of whom have been taking on the ‘antis’ head-on on the internet forums, but are equally vociferous in their demand for improvements in industry welfare. That cannot be accidental.
To those of us who have criticised the Board, and its predecessor for its lack of transparency and failure to communicate, it was a brave, but vital, step forward if the greyhound industry is ever to achieve anything resembling unity.
It was perhaps significant that even at the first meeting, when Bird himself suggested a medium term aim of a ‘cradle to grave’ industry standard, that a heated debate broke out as to unpopular ‘economic euthanasia’ policy. The widespread view was that it should be implemented sooner rather than later.
Interesting times ahead.