The Gardens has been plagued by controversy for most of its relatively short life, but Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) is hoping that the creation of The Gardens Greyhound Club will steady the ship.
The Gardens was originally managed by the National Coursing Association (NCA) but GRNSW stepped up to the plate in August 2013 and axed NCA’s management of The Gardens due to concerns surrounding its financial viability. The financial mismanagement of The Gardens was used as a case study in the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in New South Wales. The case study detailed the significant financial assistance (bail-outs) provided by GRNSW to the NCA over a period of time. There was also the well-publicised misappropriation scandal in 2012 which involved The Gardens General Manager.
After the NCA’s tenure was abruptly halted, GRNSW announced plans to invite Expressions of Interest for the management rights of the greyhound track. Three EOI’s were received (GBOTA, Richmond Greyhound Racing Club and PPB Advisory).
GRNSW has selected the submission by PPB Advisory and this has paved the way for the creation of The Gardens Greyhound Club. The new Club is comprised of four members:
Brett Lazzarini (Chairman)
Ronald Bell (Vice Chairman)
Alan Williamson (CEO/Club Secretary)
Michael Brown (Treasurer)
Many would recognise some of these names; Lazzarini has been involved in the greyhound industry for some time and most recently served as the Deputy Chairman of the GBOTA. Bell is a well known and highly respected greyhound trainer in the Hunter Valley. Brown is a businessman who set up the JB Lodge Greyhound Training and Breeding Facility and Williamson has a plethora of experience in managing sporting clubs.
The board members have been established in line with assistance from PPB Advisory. PPB Advisory provides corporate advisory, restructuring and insolvency services, so it is clearly in a position to provide the right advice to put The Gardens back on track. PPB Advisory will continue to assist throughout the formation of the new club.
Given the history of The Gardens, the new board members certainly have a big task ahead to make The Gardens financially viable as greyhound racing on its own will not make The Gardens trade in the black.
Lazzarini told the local Newcastle Herald that the board was considering its options.
“We will be oriented towards making it more of a community sporting arena,” he said.
“We just need it to make money again. That’s the black and white of it, because greyhound racing doesn’t make enough money for the track to be self-sufficient.”
The Gardens Greyhound Club will commence operations of The Gardens venue from 1 July 2014. The next year or so will prove crucial to its future.