The Board of Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) has expressed concern at the announcement by the Greyhound and Harness Racing Regulatory Authority (GHRRA) that industry participants are to be banned from being Club Stewards at Country non-TAB race meetings.
As covered on Australian Racing Greyhound recently, the NSW GHRRA has determined that effective from 1 July 2009 licensed persons will not be permitted to undertake the role of a Club Steward. According to the GHRRA, the move is desgined to increase both the integrity of greyhound racing and to assist with the public perception demands that a Steward must be perceived to be “beyond any reason for possible concern”.
Existing Club Stewards will be exempt from this policy and the Authority has undertaken to provide an ‘education process’ to ensure Club Stewards are aware of their responsibilities.
According to the GRNSW, this matter was discussed at length at the 3 December 2008 joint Board meeting of the GHRRA and GRNSW.
GRNSW Chairman Professor Percy Allan AM has since come out to say “that whilst the Board of GRNSW recognises that this is a policy area for which the GHRRA has responsibility, it is nevertheless concerned about the merits and ramifications of this decision”.
“The decision will affect country clubs, particularly those in remote areas, as they will have difficulties in recruiting Club Stewards who meet the criteria of the new policy”.
“Country non-TAB racing is akin to community sport and survives on the back of a band of volunteers committed to the continuation and conduct of the sport in their local community”.
“It is a concern that the decision may impose a significant cost burden on country clubs as many Club Stewards currently fulfil their role for nominal remuneration due to their commitment to the continuation of the sport in their local area. As such it could imperil the existence of those clubs with scant financial resources.
“The Board does not believe the consequences of implementing this policy have been fully investigated, and are not fully appreciated by the GHRRA,” Professor Allan said.
The GHRRA Greyhound Racing Rules already provides a mechanism to address the issue identified by the GHRRA. In particular, rule 104(1) provides that except as the Controlling Body may determine any person who is, or resides with, an owner, trainer or attendant of a greyhound competing at a meeting, shall not act as an official at the meeting. This rule is clearly targeted at addressing any issues of real or perceived bias.
However Allan seems to odds with “current practice” on the ground and he goes on to say the he is ” unclear …. as to why the GHRRA considers the current rule, which has stood the test of time, is no longer considered adequate and also why the GHRRA will not provide an undertaking to coordinate the recruitment of future Club Stewards given the higher standards being imposed”.
Clearly though Allan is looking at the underlying issues of the new policy and while conceding the move will improve integrity, he seems more concerned with increased cost of that imporved integrity.
Annd Allan has found some support, with the President of the NSW Greyhound Racing Clubs Association, Tom Green saying “the decision puts an added burden on country clubs and could not be justified”.
“This decision has the potential to jeopardise the racing and financial viability of country race clubs, especially those in remote areas. It is also of concern that this decision has been made without any consultation with the country clubs who will be impacted by this decision.
“The Association is so concerned that it intends to take the matter up with the Minister,” Mr. Green said.