Owners Rep Blog

Steady Steps Forward

Owners Rep blog


Steady steps forward

In my last blog on 25th October I raised my concerns regarding the strategic challenges the sport faces, and the challenges we face at GBGB to organise ourselves in a way that ensures we can meet those challenges. Notwithstanding those issues, I am writing now with a degree of positivity – small steps forward are indeed being made.

We will be looking to fill the additional Independent Director vacancy as soon as possible – the Board will be looking for someone with strong commercial credentials, ideally from the world of sport. However my view is that we should only make the appointment if the right person can be found. We should not fill the vacancy for the sake of it.

The search is on for a Track Safety Officer – and we have been re-assured by the Board that the reporting structure will be such that the decisions they make will for the best interest of the sport, not any individual track. Peter Harnden and myself will not lose sight of this commitment that was made at the recent board meeting.

Great news that some of the recent budget surplus has been allocated to PR and a formal brief is being written. I have mentioned previously that I think there are three clear PR briefs for the long term which will require significant investment (1. combat the negative press /2. greyhounds make great pets / 3. promoting the sport) – the first tranche of money will be aimed at combating all the ridiculous noise the anti’s are making and ensure some of the brilliant welfare initiatives are being shouted about to the wider public.

On that note, it was great to read the brilliant article written recently by Floyd Amphlett on the Greyhound star website titled ‘How ‘the antis’ actually damage welfare’ – Floyd is an asset to the industry and his message is one we should be shouting about. I feel strongly that his knowledge can be a real help to the sport when thinking about some PR strategies to tackle the negative press the sport receives. Watch this space.

I hope owners have seen an improvement in communications from GBGB in recent months. I have requested that the blogs on the GBGB website are made more accessible – they seem to get a bit lost in all the other news. I have also requested that more GBGB staff appear on RPGTV – I know Dave Lawrence was going to contact Mark Bird about this so hopefully this will happen.

Sadly, there is still no resolution to the funding of Sky coverage for 2018, certainly for the short term at least. I am still hopeful though. But if there is no solution, my personal view is that we should see this as an opportunity to re-assess how we promote big finals, and when they are staged. Let’s make them bigger spectator spectacles again – put them on Saturday nights and let’s try and fill the stadiums and promote them to the hilt. Some of the Sky nights these days are not particularly compelling viewing (lack of hype and quality of the cards,) and we have become lazy. Let’s use this as an opportunity to create a great TV product (make sure every race is a must see event), regardless of who the best media partner of the future may be.

I am happy that some interesting changes are being recommended for the Owners Bonus Series for 2018 – we’ve tried to make them feel a bit more special – the changes will be announced once the final recommendations have been signed off. Hopefully there is something for everyone. It’s good to try new things – we can listen to feedback for 2018 and evolve the OBS accordingly.

My proposed syndicate scheme is still work in progress but I’m hopeful we can launch it in the next few months. I’ve heard a few negative comments from the side-lines questioning why GBGB would want to re-energise syndicates. I’m hoping we can help establish approx. 100+ new syndicates which will be shared between many tracks. I see many benefits:

-          Increased ownership numbers and increased interest in the sport

-          Attract new people to the sport (local offices / pubs / factories and sports clubs)

-          Help boost breeding in the long term

-          Many welfare benefits – more dogs homed by their owners

-          Each syndicate will build a welfare fund to be used for injury or retirement purposes

-          Tracks benefit from promotion in the local area and increased attendances

-          Increased betting turnover - more punters

-          Trainers have new owners, who pay competitive fees and pay on time

In addition we will develop a great new website specifically to promote syndication – it will be much more of a cool, customer focused, high energy site than the existing GBGB site because it will be all about promoting the sport, not regulating it!

I am pleased to say the GBGB have been seriously investigating a potential apprentice scheme – we are due to sit in on a presentation in February from a potential partner who could develop such a scheme. There is no guarantee it will be feasible but its nevertheless encouraging that time is being spent investigating the idea.

I am hopeful that a strategy ‘away day’ will happen sometime in early 2018 – this is something I have mentioned many times. However there is no point in such a session happening until the new board members join (replacements for Clive Feltham and John Curran and possibly the new Independent Director)

Bob Boswell attended his first Welfare Committee meeting on behalf of owners recently – I have asked Bob to consider doing a blog for this site specifically about welfare.

It is clear that any significant new money coming into the sport will be aimed at welfare projects. I am delighted that a scheme to help with the cost of career ending injuries is being investigated, but of course such an initiative will only be possible if more money comes in from the bookmakers from their online business – I cannot give any clear update right now of the likelihood of this, but I remain hopeful.

So as we approach the end of the year, I think we are making some small steps forward. I have already realised nothing happens quickly, so I will try not to over-promise. However I will continue to keep you updated of any progress that is being made.

Happy Xmas.