€13.6 million budget jackpot for Irish greyhound industry
17 October 2014
A massive €13.6 million of taxpayers' money will be handed over to the greyhound racing industry in 2015.
Details from the latest government budget show that €13.6 million (an increase of €2.8 million over last year's grant) will be paid out to prop up Bord na gCon - the Irish Greyhound Board - a body with overall control of greyhound racing and hare coursing. We have no doubt that some of this cash will make its way into the coffers of the Irish Coursing Club.
The money, courtesy of struggling taxpayers, is to be used to pay off a part of the Irish Greyhound Board's debts - clearly a case of throwing good money after bad. What a waste of precious government funds which could have been given to deserving sectors of society.
The IGB has "warmly welcomed" the injection of cash, with chairman Phil Meaney (a former member of the Irish Coursing Club executive committee) saying "this is very welcome news and demonstrates the confidence of the ministers and government in the Irish greyhound industry."
But most would struggle to see the basis for this claimed confidence. Funds remaining after the debt payments will be ploughed in to promoting greyhound racing to a public that clearly has little interest in it, given the ongoing fall in attendances at greyhound tracks.
An Indecon report into the Irish Greyhound Board, published in July, revealed that the IGB is experiencing "substantial falls in attendances and revenues" and is "heavily indebted with net debt of over €21 million".
"The figures on turnover for Bord na gCon showed a worrying downward trend since 2006 in most categories of turnover," the Indecon report outlines. "This was reflected in an overall decline in revenue from €63.5 million to €28.2 million in 2013. The scale of the decline is dramatic and represents a fall of 55.6% over the period."
It goes on to state that "reflecting the reduction in attendance numbers, the scale of the decline in gate receipts and programme sales, entry fees and catering income is also very marked. Together these accounted for €5.049 million of the fall in income between 2007 and 2013."
The report notes that gate receipts and programme sales remain at approximately half their 2007 level and that since 2007, there has been a "decline in sponsorship income by €1.219 million".
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