IGB Chief Executive, Ger Dollard, announced this week that,

“Our partnership with SIS has been an excellent one and we are very pleased to be extending it through the announcement of this new agreement.”

Mr Dollard’s claim that the agreement is an excellent one needs to be examined further. Is this agreement really an excellent one for all the parties involved.

 

SIS; SIS (Sports Information Services) is the leading supplier of betting products to retail and online operators globally. According to SIS, they will provide betting operators with desirable and profitable content. SIS are at the coal face of commercial business, if they can’t sell the product for a profit they won’t buy. They have been dealing with the IGB for a few years and have previously complained about the quality of the product. SIS know there is no competitor. They also know the IGB don’t have the ability to produce and alternative betting platform. SIS set the price, IGB take it. The IGB will make every excuse not to divulge the price they are paid per meeting.

It is not unreasonable to assume that indeed this was an excellent deal for SIS.

 

Greyhound Owners; Greyhound owners, despite being pivotal to the deal, were kept totally in the dark. Greyhound owners will have no say in conditions, time of meetings etc or prize money paid out. An A3 (middle of the road ability dogs) SIS race in Mullingar has a total prize fund of €430 minus €60 for entry fee, leaves a nett €370 to be paid out. If these 6 A3 dogs ran every week (which would be impossible due to injuries) they would make on average €61.66 in prize money ie €370/6 = €61.66 each week.

It is impossible to maintain a greyhound in training for €61 per week. It costs about €105 per week to send a suburban mongrel to a boarding kennel for a week where the care would be considerably less, and the owner would also have to supply the food.

Ger Dollard often refers to 12,500 people been financially impacted by greyhound racing. Greyhound owners are part of the 12,500 that he refers to, the financial impact is that every week the greyhound owner has to put his hand into his pocket to contribute to the industry.

This SIS agreement is clearly not an excellent agreement for greyhound owners.

 

As I have said above, SIS buy and sell betting products to international retail and online betting operators. One only has to look at the number of Premiership soccer teams that are sponsored by betting firms to realise that betting is an extremely profitable business.

 

The questions that the IGB now needs to be asked about this agreement are the following.

  • How much does it cost the IGB to run a SIS race meeting?

Prizemoney, staff costs, track maintenance, depreciation etc need to included in calculating the total cost of the meeting.

  • Does the payment from SIS cover the full cost of running these SIS race meetings?
  • Is the IGB using some of the €20 million of Irish taxpayers’ money that it will receive in 2021 to fill the gap between what it costs to run these meetings and how much SIS pays for the meetings?

 

Following the unrelenting bad press that the greyhound industry draws upon itself particularly regarding its ambivalent attitude to greyhound welfare that was exposed in the RTE documentary and confirmed by ex-board member Pat Creed, the industry is losing friends in high places.

The tone-deaf trip to the High Court by the Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club (to distract from his own failings) has done enormous political damage to the wider industry and increases the likelihood that Government funding will be withdrawn from the greyhound industry within the 5 years of this SIS agreement.

 

If the Government withdraws funding from the industry and the IGB are unable to fulfil their terms of the agreement ie 8 race meetings per week. Are IGB on the hook for financial compensation to SIS for failure to fulfil their side of the bargain.

This deal looks like an excellent deal for the UK bookmakers but Paddy has screwed himself rightly this time.