And finally, it has been published, the much hyped Indecon Report has been delivered. Anyone that follows the industry will not be surprised by the report or its recommendations. This review was done for one reason and one reason only, to justify the IGB’s already made decisions to close tracks.

This report could have been put together in one week, a few charts and graphs showing the decline in attendance, betting etc at the various tracks. Information that is readily available from the annual reports of each track. Indecon even used Google maps to tell us the distance from Kilkenny to Thurles to Clonmel.

The biggest surprise of this report is how little you now get in a consultant’s report for €125,000.

However, we will examine the conclusions and the recommendations.

  1. Greyhound racing is likely to experience a continued decline in attendance.

You would not need to be a genius to figure that out, the industry has suffered 13 consecutive years of declining attendance with an accelerated decline since the current CEO was appointed.

  1. Ireland has an Exceptionally High Number of Stadia for the Population Size.

This is a nonsense narrative that IGB are propagating to justify closing stadia. Ireland also has an exceptionally high number of GAA clubs for the population size, we have a very high number of rugby clubs for our population size, much higher than Denmark, Hungary, USA or the other countries that Indecon mentions. Conversely, we have a smaller number of ski clubs, wrestling or ice hockey clubs. The clumsy comparisons by Indecon are simply space fillers, and only confirm that Indecon was willing to grasp at anything to justify the closure of tracks.

  1. A number of Stadia are in Poor Condition and Require Capital Investment.

Thanks for telling us, we would never have known.

  1. The Absence of Sufficient Quality Breeders is likely to be an increasing Challenge for the Sector.

This line is one we have heard from the CEO from time to time and it illustrates both his and Indecons failure to understand competitive sport. Everyone sets out to breed “quality” dogs. What defines quality in greyhounds is his/her speed relative to the rest of the population. We could possibly use science, genomic screening etc to get the average speed of greyhounds increased significantly. However, there will always be a spread in ability and the top 1% will always be sought after. Contrary to what Indecon appear to be suggesting, slow dogs are not bred by bad breeders and it is not unusual to have a Derby Winner and an A9 in the one litter.

  1. Most Greyhound Tracks in Ireland are Loss Making

This is actually not true. All tracks in Ireland are loss making including Shelbourne Park, which is actually the worst performing track, when you include prize money paid out.

  1. Losses are Likely to be Unsustainable in the Absence of a Radical Restructuring of Sector

Again, you hardly need to pay somebody €125,000 to tell you this. Sadly, the suggestions from Indecon again expose their limitations, “Indecon believes that as well as a restructuring, it will be essential to implement ongoing cost-cutting measures to reduce staff and operational costs at individual stadia.”

  1. There is Potential to Develop a Viable Greyhound Industry in Ireland.

The IGOBF have argued this point to anyone that would listen for many years. We are aware of the many threats to the industry but we remain convinced that the biggest threat to the Irish greyhound industry is now and has been for the last 10 years, The Irish Greyhound Board.

Then we have the recommendations of Indecon, recommendations that would normally guarantee the sacking of a CEO if he presented these plans to any self-respecting board for the future of any industry.

The IGB closed Harold Cross in 2017 and the then Chairman of IGB stated that this closure would secure the future of the remaining 16 stadia. The IGOBF warned at the time that this was not true as closing this one loss making track did not solve the problem of the other 16 loss making tracks. Closing four tracks now does absolutely nothing to solve the problems of the industry, next week we still have 12 tracks losing money. Three more of these, probably Thurles, Newbridge and Mullingar will be closed in two years time.

We have a board and an executive that have no idea how to produce a racing product that guarantees the highest standards of greyhound welfare and also give owners/breeders/trainers a reasonable financial return. The failure of Indecon to include the poor quality (highlighted by SIS) of the racing product presented by IGB as a contributing factor in the decline of the industry is a case of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

It is interesting to compare the IGB response to the last two reports that they commissioned.

 

Indecon Report 2019 Preferred Results Report
Findings & Recommendations Too many tracks, close 4 now and 3 more by 2022.

 

Replace bad breeders with quality breeders

Highlighted dysfunctional management at all levels of IGB.

Questioned the independence of the Control Committee Reporting structure.

Suggested an evaluation of the skills available with current employees.

Phase out Part-time drug testers.

Outsource the drug testing laboratory.

Quantified losses being borne by owners and breeders

 

 

IGB Reaction Indecon;

Published and announced immediate acceptance of recommendations by IGB.

Preferred Results;

Refused to publish or even report its existence to Dept of Agriculture.

It was eventually leaked and IGB disputed the findings.