Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and the Berlin Wall was intact when I joined the Greyhound Star on January 2 1987.

Greyhound racing had its own power structure and since my dad was a former breeder’s rep on the British Greyhound Racing Federation, I knew precisely how the land lay.

Personally, I didn’t have any significant financial or career expectations, just one ambition.

I wanted to do the right thing for the greyhound industry.

I have made many mistakes and errors of judgement during that period but that quest is as strong today as it was on day one.


When I sat at my desk on my first day, British greyhound racing was very firmly controlled by the owners of the 36 NGRC tracks – exactly twice what we have today.

The NGRC attempted a couple of power grabs but ultimately the tracks ruled and ensured that whichever puppet headed the BGRB, the promoters held every string. We missed out on some good people who couldn’t stick it. Lord Kimball stands out in particular.

Over a comparatively short period during those first two decades, that power base gradually shifted to the betting industry, the stand-off coming at the Battle of New Deal. The shops had become more important than attendances and the bookies had won.

In the last four years, the clout has shifted once again and is now with the media rights companies. They now own greyhound racing.

With every successive step, ‘what was best for industry as a whole’ has become less of a priority.


Which leads me onto another point that I learned a long time ago.

The track owners were never the enemy. For most of my time in greyhounds, which goes back a lot further than 1987, the majority of track promoters recognised the value of owners and trainers (even if it was just as a necessary evil!).

They might have been the lions in the ecosystem, and there were more than enough gazelle to exploit. But ultimately everyone benefited from a healthy industry.

Every so often, the situation was exploited – notably when the Fund hit £14m – but the promoters eventually learned to manage it themselves.

In fact, I would say that a BGRB Board where John Curran (Kinsley) and Billy King (Shawfield) were prepared to face upto the GRA duo of Feltham and Astaire, while Haynes, Locke-Hart and Gilling represented the grass roots, was probably as good as it ever got.


The creation of GBGB in 2009 was a disaster for the industry.

The early appointments were catastrophic. People with no understanding of greyhound racing were put in charge and failed miserably.

Attempts to bring promoters to heel came to nothing and most of Donoughue’s blueprint has long since been crayoned over.

But here is the first thing that the keyboard warriors are not going to want to read – despite major flaws, GBGB was made to work.

After the low point of Tom Kelly’s chairmanship, the appointment of Mark Bird, was a breakthrough. He gained the trust of the majority of the industry and I think largely still retains it.

Prepare for the second thing that the keyboard warriors might not want to read, the fact that Bird is married to the most powerful promoter’s representative, Rachel Corden, is an industry positive.

You cannot be serious!

It is very simple. Having seen countless BGRB CEOs and chairmen behave like promoter’s bitches, the transparency of the relationship of a married couple could not be more open to scrutiny.


So why is there so much unhappiness in the industry? Why was owners rep Paul Carpenter so scathing in his resignation letter? Or what of the The Sun newspaper publishing a story suggesting collusion on the Board between ARC and Entain?

Perhaps the answer is another two questions?

Does every member of the current Board have the best interests of greyhound racing as a whole? Or are there tribal divisions affecting decisions?

Because let’s face it, if ARC had won the media rights war a year ago, would the GBGB Board of Directors look any different?

Furthermore – can a promoter, who allegedly claims that neither owners or crowds matter in comparison to his media rights payments, really have the best interests of the industry at heart?

Or just those of his employers? And what happens to anyone who disagrees with him?

When a director is appointed to a corporate board, his or her primary duty is to the board. They are not there to manipulate decisions for the benefit of their company or even the people they represent.

It is Peter Harnden’s duty to put the interests of the greyhound industry above those of his trainer colleagues.


I am not the only one with concerns. My understanding is that during the summer of 2021, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain received a lengthy and detailed report highlighting potential failures of governance of the GBGB board of directors.

Under the Companys Act 2006 it highlights the requirement of the Board to act in the best interests of the entire industry and to avoid conflicts of interest.

Some of the concerns have been addressed, including the appointment of three independent directors. Many have not.

Indeed, many of the issues are being compounded with every boardroom decision.

My understanding is that the people who funded the report are running out of patience and will soon escalate their actions and engage other Government agencies other than UKAS, who are already aware. There are some very angry and frustrated people out there.


Final thoughts.

Is the GBGB worth saving?

Absolutely. Get rid of it and your first task would be creating a new GBGB.

Does it need significant reform?


It needs to be more representative with greater diversity of interest and to acknowledge that following the commercial agreement with ARC/Entain, representation will need to be addressed.

This won’t go away!

Will even suggesting reform lead to a backlash?

Quite possibly.

But after 35 years and two days . . . .