The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has come under fire in Irish media for drawing down on its funding to the tune of €11.9 million during the shutdown of racing.
Also knows as Bord na gCon, IGB is the body responsible for greyhound racing in Ireland. It is funded by the Irish government under an arrangement known as the Horse and Greyhound Fund that provides €16.8 million to the sport annually.
Like many other countries Irish greyhound racing has been in shutdown since 24 March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sport is due to resume at the end of this month, with Ireland’s greyhound tracks now having resumed trialling.
According to the Irish Examiner, the IGB has now drawn down €14.7 million of its €16.8 million allocation and has just €2.1 million left to fund the rest of the calendar year.
IGB Chief executive Ger Dollard declined requests to say what the €11.9m had been used to fund during the shutdown. A subsistence payment of €2 per day made to each of the 6,647 working greyhounds registered during the shutdown had cost the IGB €1.3 million during the period.
Mr Dollard defended the drawdown of funds saying that “the front-loading of funding is the same as previous years”.
“It would always have been weighted towards the early part of the year as the commercial side of the business is towards the second half of the year,” he said.
Mr Dollard said that Bord na gCon’s total income for 2019, including statutory funding, was €29m.
A recent report by consultancy firm Indecon in to the sport’s financial health concluded that a there had been a decline in the IGB’s income across the first two months of this year, with the year on year comparison significantly lower.
Just this week, IGB agreed maintain ordinary prizemoney race grants at current levels for the rest of 2020. The board also announced an increase in ordinary race entry fees from €10 to €15.
The Board of IGB also vowed to continue “its programme of cost reduction and restructuring across all areas of the business”. They state that payroll costs had been reduced from over of €9 million in 2015 to €8.162 million in 2019. The IGB said that the further “reduction in payroll costs during 2019 was €240,000” and that they expect “further reductions in costs for 2020”.
The 2019 annual reports have not yet been released to the public.