National Greyhound Form PTY LTD has been placed into administration with many people in the industry left out of pocket after the abrupt disappearance of Hotdogs.com.au and print publication National Greyhound Form.
Paid-up subscribers have flooded social media sites and greyhound forums with complaints after the popular website was taken offline at the end of last month without any notification, while the NGF was printed for the last time more than a week ago.
Australian Racing Greyhound can confirm the company and its subsidiaries have been placed in the hands of administrators, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission appointing Altan Djenab to handle its affairs.
Several former staff members, including long-time NGF contributor Roger Clark, said staff, much like subscribers, had been kept in the dark about the business’s impending closure by owners John, Peter and Mark Pearson.
“I can confirm I was told by John Pearson last Wednesday that after a meeting with Peter and Mark, that they had had enough and they had decided to close the paper down,” Clark said.
“I asked about that week’s edition and was told it was out. He said he was too emotional to say anything else.
“After an hour when the shock subsided a bit, I emailed to ask about the gold guide and hotdogs – which I rely on heavily for formulated breeding and results.
“I then checked their website for the gold guide, which had been shut down by then. Phone calls on Thursday morning went unanswered.
“From a personal point of view I am disappointed, I had done two weeks’ work and research, and finished a 3000-word column ready to send for this week.”
Despite rumours, Greyhound Racing Victoria has denied National Greyhound Form Pty Ltd is the successful tenderer to run their Watchdog service, for which applications closed in mid-December.
In the government tender application forms, which were put to the public in the middle of 2015, it clearly asks about financial viability, and any voluntary administration or insolvency proceedings, which appears to rule out NGF from being the successful applicant.
The regular NGF editorial and advertising phone numbers are not being answered and the Pearson brothers have failed to return Australian Racing Greyhound’s calls.
A spokesperson at Fairfax’s circulation office in North Richmond, where the NGF was printed, confirmed they had received notification from liquidators that the NGF would no longer be using their services.
Several subscribers to the greyhound form site have contacted Australian Racing Greyhound and confirmed a payment was taken from their accounts on the same day Hotdogs.com.au disappeared on January 28.
The NGF printed publication features many advertisers, who when contacted said they had not been informed of the demise of the publication. At least two regular advertisers, including Sires on Ice, have paid for advertising in advance.
“I was unaware that they were closing so it came as a big shock and on top of that we are still owed advertising, ” Sires on Ice’s Tony Wiseman said.
“I haven’t had a chance to actually have a look back and see how much advertising we were owed but it would have been a fair bit.
“It was disappointing because we have been advertising with them for quite a while and we did do a lot of advertising with them.”
Northern Rivers Stud is another business to have been left in the lurch at the sudden closure, with owner Richard Vrckoff saying the first he had heard of it was through social media site Facebook.
“I was completely and utterly shocked when I found out, I never heard anything from them directly and I have been advertising with them for over five years,” he said.
“It is not good for the industry as it was quite a good publication. They had their reasons obviously, unfortunately we will probably never know what they are.”
Hotdogs.com.au’s app, which is still available to download in the Apple App and Google Plus stores, has also stopped all functionality.
The company, National Greyhound Form Pty Ltd, for which the Australian Tax Office has John Pearson listed as its registrant contact name, owns the hotdogs.com.au website and another subscriber-based site, greyhoundform.com.au, which was also taken down on January 28.
The National Greyhound Form has been in its present form for more than 20 years after starting out as the Gold Guide, with a brief stint as TAB form, before taking on its current name. The digital arm of the business has been around since the mid 2000s.
For the staff of NGF and its associated websites, it has been a bitter pill to swallow, with legal action against their former employers not being ruled out.
“There are unconfirmed rumours circulating that GRV either knew about the closure or were behind it and if this is the case it is even more disappointing,” said Clark, who was NGF’s breeding specialist.
“Some people saw comments on Twitter and Facebook that were removed within minutes.
“I know for a fact that some staff were extremely unhappy with the way the whole thing was handled, and that further action is being considered.
“Who knows what will happen when the dust settles, but I do know there are a lot of unhappy people around and that if the Pearsons are thinking about doing something else in the industry they will get a fairly cool reception.
“On a personal note after knowing the family for more than 50 years and working with NGF for almost 13 years I deserved a bit better.”
Have you been affected by the closure of the NGF or hotdogs.com.au? contact Australian Racing Greyhound at [email protected]