Sheffield GM John Gilburn believes that greyhound racing is not unique in its battle to attract attendances and the need for strong media rights deals will only increase.

He said: “Overall, business has been reasonable this year. But if we look at our figures, general attendance is down, but ‘spend per head’ is reasonably strong. What we see happening is that the public do not have regular midweek nights out as they might have done 20 or 30 years ago.

“There is much more for them to do and they can do it at home with a bottle of wine bought at the supermarket. But when they do come out for special events, such as stag dos or birthday parties, they spend well.

“This is being mirrored in many other leisure businesses; I was talking to Doncaster racecourse who have noticed exactly the same trend.

“Even the most successful sports businesses are no longer reliant on attendances. Take Manchester United, as an example. They get crowds of around 70,000 for every home game but that doesn’t even pay the wage bill. They need the TV money and marketing in their business model. Greyhound racing will be ever dependent on a strong media rights deals in the years ahead.”

Parker 28 502 £19,970 61
Draper 16 477 £6,760 27
Melbourne 6 474 £5,450 22
Lister 12 532 £5,030 21
Perry 7 507 £18,080 19
Warren 11 583 £4,360 19
Sharp 7 406 £3,650 16
Tuffin 5 457 £15,800 13

Super veteran Strides Marilyn (Makeshift-Marilyn Mal, Aug 12) is Sheffield’s most prolific graded winner of the year with 14 victories from 52 races. Phil Sanderson’s white and black has 171 races on her card in almost four years and is currently running in A5.

Elaine Parker has dominated the open and graded tables at the track this year. The Goole based handler has twice as many open winners as closest rival Barrie Draper and 36 more graded successes than Lisa Stephenson.

Four runners are on the open race winner’s mark for the year: Candlelight King, Dropzone, Rappers Station and Yahoo Benny.