Lord Donoghue released his report about Greyhound racing in 2007. Yet, we seem to be in the worst situation in greyhound racing history. Now, the GBGB are not responsible for the virus, but must carry responsibility for the current mess.
The fact that they value a Greyhound at just 50p a day is a very sad indictment of their true colours. I am fortunate that I am able to afford to keep my own greyhounds without this pathetic paltry amount offered.
However, I am concerned that some trainers who rely upon the regular win/run money may be in a position that puts their Greyhounds at risk. This goes to show that the product (Greyhound racing) is sold for a fraction of the true cost.
In particular, I would refer the promoters to Lord Donoghues report – “15. Leading Tracks, including BAGS tracks, must accept that they have a collective responsibility for driving the improved welfare agenda.”
Will they step up and be counted in this time of greatest need?
Greyhound racing is one of the best sports when it is showcased to its best. It needs a governing body who actually does something other than issue soundbytes and concentrate on endless ‘box ticking’.
They never get out and about, too afraid of what they might hear from people other than yes. anyone who has ever run their own business finds it ludicrous the way that they run this great sport, any other business, other than one that relies on hand outs (Bookmakers) would have gone bust years ago.
Even when asked if the sport needed a statutory levy, it was met by a stony silence. they need to be like a dog with a bone and never stop until we get what we are worth.
After this current situation is over, I am sure that many owners, trainers, and breeders (where will the dogs come from) will say enough is enough.
The whole lot need to either start to stand up for greyhound racing.. or go.
I am delighted to receive and publish John’s letter because I think it reflects a view held by a significant number of people and was an inevitable response following the GBGB’s announcement yesterday. I certainly received calls from unhappy owners.
As someone who reported on Donoughue, and interviewed him, and as a keen student of industry politics for many years, I would like to challenge some of John’s statements, and put others in perspective. I will try to condense the arguments as best I can. However some are only explainable in context of historic events. Many of my observations will not be well received. But this isn’t a popularity contest!
In relation to the responsibility of GBGB, it can only operate into the system for which it was designed and created. On that point, Donoughue’s report was clearly fundamentally flawed. John refers to the lack of a levy. Surely, it was Donoughue’s job to create an organisation that was self funding and robust? He, was the author of the report, with the ear of Government, so why didn’t he insist on GBGB being adequately funded by statute (with a levy). I asked that very question, from the floor, on the day ‘Donoughue’ was rolled out to the media. Nobody wanted to hear it, least of all Donoughue himself.
He, and the Government, might argue that they could not create a statutory levy due to EU restrictions on state subsidies (not an issue any more of course). You could argue that the problem goes back to 1961, where, as far as I can see, for reasons based purely on class and privilege, a frantic but well connected horse racing industry was granted a levy prior to the opening of betting shops.
Over the years, in various gambling reviews, the NGRS, then the BGRB, submitted to every gambling review and got nowhere. Time and time again they were ignored, long before the ‘EU subsidy’ cop out.
The plain fact is – GBGB has no money of its own. Its role is to distribute money that comes in voluntarily from the bookmakers into ‘the Fund’. But if we want to start apportioning blame, let’s remember that until last year, many of the firms, notably Betfair, did not pay a red cent into the BGRF.
The last chairman of GBGB, Tom Kelly, was appointed because of his supposed ‘connections’ in the betting industry. Yet it was current MD Mark Bird who actually delivered in just over a year of being in the job. Years and millions were wasted under Kelly and Faulkner.
It serves little purpose to go down the route of ‘promoter blame’, not because it didn’t happen, but because the guilty parties have all left the industry.
The fact remain that had greedy promoters not fleeced the Fund in the early days, and had taken loans and not grants, we would have a very different industry. Why? Because it gave the bookmakers an opportunity (honestly or conveniently?) to claim, ‘why should we pay into a fund that the promoters are plundering?’
But there are no clean hands in this.
The greatest reason for a skint industry was ‘excess product’. The betting industry didn’t pay anywhere near enough for a well run, high welfare product. They paid what they could get away with, and the NGRC, and GBGB let it happen by allowing trainers to cut corners at the expense of the dogs.
I blame the trainers who didn’t charge kennel bills and the owners who put dogs with them. I am sure there are some of your reading this!
It serves no purpose to blame the current GBGB board for our current situation. It is neither accurate or just. These are different individuals trying their best to achieve damage limitation. This is the best greyhound board I have known in my time as a journalist, by a million miles.
50 pence per day, per dog, is not sustainable in the long term. But remember, this isn’t just the 25,000 racing dogs, it includes pups and the thousands of ex-racers out there – AND it is all they’ve got!
Let’s not forget though, trainers should be able to claim Government support for staff wages, small business loans etc.
This is no time for a blame game.
Floyd Amphlett – editor