There is a boring predictability about the IGB annual report every year. Betting is always down on the previous year, attendance is always down and The C&AG flags breaches of procurement rules. We get the obligatory sermon from the Chairman who tries to convince us that the industry has now turned the corner and that next year will be better.

The CFO then trots out a list of excuses as to why the figures are so bad, they are always matters that are completely outside of his control so he can’t be held accountable. One year he tells us the cold weather is responsible for falling attendance and the next year it is the hot weather. One year it is the World Cup, the next year it is the GAA. We even had the i-phone being blamed by the Commercial Manager at the PAC. You are now absolutely guaranteed that when the 2019 accounts will be published that Brexit will be blamed.

The problems of the Irish greyhound industry have nothing to do with weather, i-phones or Brexit. The problems are 100% rooted in a hopelessly run IGB with no accountability. It is almost 2 years since Mr Dollard was appointed CEO and nothing changes. Sloppy performance and no one held to account.

Horse and Greyhound Fund.

This fund was established in 2001 and since then the IGB have received €256 million. There is a growing clamour from politicians who are regularly questioning the value that the tax payers are getting from this subsidising of the industry 

Dáil Debate Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Richard Boyd Barrett

“The most elementary infrastructure necessary for the maintenance of society and the existence of humanity is our natural environment. The Taoiseach’s highly disingenuous response to Deputy Bríd Smith earlier about her climate emergency Bill, which is trying to stop the extraction of further fossil fuels was not very heartening in respect of his attitude to this. I do not know whether he heard George Lee on RTÉ today chatting to Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust. The headline on the item was that Irish nature is collapsing. He went on to describe how 100 of our plants and animals are already extinct and another third of our species are under very serious threat. He spoke about the deterioration of water quality, the extremely precarious situation of forestry, wildlife and so on and the fact that the Irish Greyhound Board gets as much money annually as the National Parks and Wildlife Service.”

Year                       Bord na gCon €

2001                       11,777,583

2002                       13,613,163

2003                       12,837,200

2004                       13,382,800

2005                       13,670,000

2006                       14,012,000

2007                       14,572,000

2008                       15,257,000

2009                       13,625,600

2010                       11,852,800

2011                       11,460,000

2012                       11,258,000

2013                       11,004,000

2014                       10,844,000

2015                       13,600,000

2016                       14,800,000

2017                       16,000,000

2018                       16,000,000

2019                       16,800,000

 Total                   256,363,000

Comments like this from Boyd Barrett and other TD’s in the Dail are common and should not be ignored by the greyhound industry. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify why the IGB gets €323,000 of Government funding every week. The claims from IGB that the industry employs in excess of 5,000 people are farcical. The IGB tries to validate this figure by claiming that this is the figure that independent economic consultant, Jim Power, has calculated. However, when you read Jim Powers report, Power states that he has received this figure from the IGB.

This begs the question, who actually did the count?

This is taken from the Jim Power report “The Economic and Financial Significance of the Irish Greyhound Industry November 2017” and clearly shows that these are IGB figures.

These figures are, like much of what emanates from IGB, inaccurate. There are no 180 people working for the ICC, how did the IGB come up with a figure of 300 people manufacturing food for greyhounds? Is it possible that some people have been counted multiple times? Are the ICC employees also IGB Control Stewards? How did anyone calculate that there are 1,170 people employed in the greyhound betting sector when tote staff have already been included as being on the IGB Payroll?  The CEO might explain how he came up with these numbers.

 

Some people will criticise the IGOBF for drawing attention to these figures from the IGB but before anyone criticises the IGOBF they should ask who is benefitting from these claims. Everyone has access to data and it is only a matter of time before Richard Boyd Barrett asks for a breakdown of these figures. The inaccurate figures coming from IGB are to protect the non-performing  executive and leaves the industry in a very vulnerable position.

The Irish Greyhound industry would not last a week if the Horse and Greyhound fund was withdrawn and politicians have repeatedly warned that it will be withdrawn at some point. It is grossly negligent for the IGB to not plan for a future without this tax payer funding.

The Aussie Model

It is simply a focus on supplying your racing for an online audience as opposed to getting people into the stadia.

It is laughable that a mouthpiece for the IGB was telling anyone that wanted to listen in Limerick last weekend that this would never work in Ireland because we would need new Government legislation. We are already doing online betting through Barking Buzz but we just do it very bad.

People bet, that is the reality whether we like it or not. The horses and greyhounds had a monopoly for many years but all that has changed in the last 20 years with a myriad of betting products vying for punters. The greyhound industry was the proverbial “head in the sand ostrich”, too lazy to modernise because Government funding paid the wages.

What needs to be done?

  • Tracks need to be safer. We have far too many injuries at our tracks, particularly the first bend, and this affects our industry in 3 ways.
  1. There are multiple videos on IGB website showing dogs getting injured at the first bed and this rightly draws the wrath of animal welfare organisations.
  2. Punters use information such as form, breeding, trap draw etc when they are deciding what dog to bet on. Many races in Ireland are decided on a spontaneous skirmish at the first bend which often makes a lottery out of the race. This lottery is not attractive from a punter’s perspective.
  3. It is very disappointing and expensive for owners to lose dogs with injuries. Many owners cannot afford to replace dogs that are injured so we lose owners from the industry.

.

This race is from Limerick last night and is not acceptable. The CEO claims to be concerned about welfare, I hope he has an answer if Claire Daley or Maureen O’Sullivan inquire about the well being of Bright Honey and Carrigmore Jet. 

The IGB set up a sub-committee under the Chairmanship of Tim Gilbert in 2014 and spent €80,000 realigning the first bend. They could have spent €180,000 and this committee would still have failed because individually or collectively they did not have the smarts to correct the problem. The money spent was a failure and the bend is a dangerous today as it was before “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker” fixed it

Outside lures are unsafe and bend radius must be increased. 

 

Regulation.

We consistently fail to produce competitive racing. Bookmakers are afraid to write up a book with competitive overrounds.

This is from Tralee last week. Overround in this race is 263%. Does our CEO honestly think that punters are going to be into races like this? This is not a one off, I could find 50 more races that weekend with similar overrounds.

3 dog races are not attractive for betting. Punters won’t listen to excuses, they go somewhere else.

The IGB has a lot of work to do, when you get your own house in order then you can start blaming Brexit.