24th February 2021

Dear Mr Dollard, Mr Nyham and the entire board,

I have received numerous complaints from very angry owners from all over the country, over the reduction in prize money. Whoever made this decision needs to reverse it immediately. The IGB was set up as a semi state body to regulate and promote the greyhound industry. Since 2008 it has failed miserably. The owners are the lifeblood of the industry, yet they are expected to carry all the expenses while their rewards are reduced. The IGB leaked a message last year through their friends on the ‘Sham’ group that the entry fees for graded races would have to be increased by 50% or take a reduction in prize money. The first thing the board did was to increase the entry fees by 50% and then a couple of months later, they cut the prize money as well.

In 2016 the Irish Greyhound Board held their first SIS (Bags) meeting at Mullingar. At a meeting between the owners and the IGB, the IGB agreed to pay an additional €60 for the bags race meetings and they were also told that when the bags meetings were established and up and running, they could expect to get substantially more from the SIS for the meetings going forward, which in turn could be put into the IGBs budget and would improve the level of prize money overall. Four years later they are actually getting slightly less than they were on the opening night, which is shameful.

The IGOBF had a meeting with yourself and Mr Nyham after Mr Nyham was appointed chairman of the board. At that time we, the IGOBF raised the question about the bags contract fee and that Ireland was only receiving about a 1/3 of the fee compared to what was being paid in the UK. Mr Nyham informed us on that day that there would be no further contracts signed unless there was a substantial increase in the contract money from SIS. You have now disclosed that a further 5-year contract has been signed with SIS. If this is so why haven’t the owners been given an increase in the prize money.

The present situation of increased prize money in Shelbourne Park can no longer be allowed to continue during the Covid Pandemic. It was introduced, according to the IGB, to encourage owners to run their dogs there. The logic behind this was to increase attendances at the venue. Racing now takes place without any patrons, with the public urged not to travel any further than 5km from their home. For that reason alone owners should be urged to race at their local tracks until the pandemic restrictions are lifted. Purely from an optics perception, it does not look good to have people travelling throughout the country. It has also been reported to us that there is a percentage of Owners and Trainers coming from different parts of the country, who are not adhering to Covid guidelines to wear a face covering in public areas.

The IGB have now been given an increased grant of 19million for this year. Where is the money going? It is imperative that ALL tracks be treated equally in regards to prize money. An A4 race should have the same prize money and distribution in every venue, be it an ordinary night’s racing or a bags meeting throughout the country. Owners are leaving the sport in their droves. Reduced prize money is not helping the situation. The current situation is unacceptable. With the level of prize money that is being paid at the moment, there is no incentive for anyone to buy a greyhound. You would get more now for a Cockatoo or a Yorkshire terrier than you would for an A2 or A3 greyhound in his prime, therefore owners are leaving in droves.

Mr Nyham is over 5 years on the board either as a director or now as chairperson and in that time we have seen Harolds Cross sold, Longford and Lifford closed down, Newbridge, Thurles and Clonmel running at 50% and Enniscorthy being forced to reopen a month later this year along with that he also said recently on the Sunday Interview that he can see more track closures….. which is absolutely shameful. This needs to be addressed and a letter of acknowledgement along with a date for a meeting with us the federation as soon as possible and when safe to do so.

On behalf of the Irish Owners and Greyhound Federation

_______________________ Tony Walsh