Owners Rep Blog

Blog: Owners Director Representative Paul Ephremsen

I’ve been in the Owner’s Rep role for a few months now and there is certainly never a dull moment. In this short time, I’ve seen two Board Director’s departing, the appointment of Mark Bird as MD, the media rights battle in full flow and of course the long overdue announcement that some offshore money will be coming into the sport from 2018.

But first things first, many of you will have read the recommendations of my Innovation Panel – we have over 50 ideas, pretty much all of which are aimed at benefiting ALL owners. After all, that is the only purpose of my role. To summarise, we are looking to develop some big welfare initiatives, as well as focusing on how owners are treated by tracks (I want to implement a scheme where owners feel like VIP’s at tracks). And I want the Board to invest in the areas of promotion, PR and marketing, to include testing a centrally funded syndicate scheme (I will be attaching the full recommendations onto this blog page soon). I’m meeting Mark Bird this week to understand how I can go about implementing some of these ideas quickly – I need some quick wins here.

I am fully supportive of Mark’s appointment. I sat in on a presentation given by him and I genuinely think this is an opportunity for us to raise our game, develop a vision and plan for the future, and move into an era of openness, transparency and forward thinking. In my opinion, the board will need to allow Mark to get on with it, and to be more strategic in their way of working, if this is to succeed.

I’ve talked about improving communication to owners. This blog will be something that myself and Kevin Perisi will use on a weekly basis to let you know what we are up to, give you updates on projects and meetings, and share thoughts from tracks around the country. In addition, we are also investigating a Facebook page specifically for owners. We just need to work out how we can control this and how we are able to allow syndicate members onto the page too. We have asked the GBGB about how we can produce a monthly newsletter too – but to post this would be too expensive and right now they don’t have email addresses for all owners! So we may need to collate those in time but for now we will use this blog as our main communication tool.

One area I wanted to mention was how we go about creating a national owners network. I am not in favour of creating a national owners’ associations, or individual associations for tracks that don’t already have them. I do not have time to develop such an initiative (for those that aren’t aware this is a part time role) and firstly I think we need a more efficient way of owners at all tracks communicating their ideas, and frustrations with us. Secondly, I am not sure exactly what benefit there would be. Instead, Kevin Perisi has offered to build a network of owners around the country that want to be the spokespeople at their local track (ideally we will look to involve people who are already elected members of their own track association if it has one) Kevin will be in regular contact with this network and he and I will ensure any hot topics are dealt with and debated as necessary.

A quick note on the good news announced last week that Ladbrokes Coral have agreed to make contributions from offshore turnover from 2018. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before the other bookmakers do the right thing and follow suit. But a word of caution – even if all the major bookmakers agree to pay, the sport will still be grossly under-funded and this is not the complete solution. For sure it’s a step in the right direction but let’s not kid ourselves – we need many more millions to run and promote the sport in a way befitting a modern day, nationwide leisure industry.

I was appointed a Director on the BGRF last month and I am looking forward to my first board meeting soon. Watch this space.

I am looking to involve a bit of youth on my Innovation Panel and will be meeting a couple of younger greyhound enthusiasts soon so that we can start to be a bit more inclusive. Any interested parties please get in touch right away.

I mentioned on RPGTV that I am only interested in representing owners if I can make a difference. The next few months are crucial to try and get some of our ideas off the ground for the benefit of all owners. I will be sure to update this blog with a brutally honest assessment of the progress I am making.