British Greyhound Racing

Fund Limited

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Chairman’s Personal Statement

The past year has offered a mixture of both optimism and pessimism. Optimism because GBGB welfare provision for the sport has never been greater and we have at last convinced decision makers in Government and in the welfare sector that greyhound racing is a good clean sport with ambitions to improve still further; pessimism because the gradual decline in our income seemed unstoppable and the effect of FOBT reductions, now confirmed for April 2019, looms large.

However, a welcome step forward has taken place with the commitment from several major bookmakers who operate online to make contributions to the BGRF at the agreed rates from 1st January 2019. They will join our existing payers, recorded below. This is the result of lengthy negotiations and I’d like to thank all concerned for enabling this significant agreement and in particular Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the DCMS Mims Davies and her team, and our good friend and supporter over many years, Lord Lipsey.

The accounts published here cover the year to 31st March 2018, but we’ve decided to update this statement in view of this significant development.


It is disappointing to note that despite what was at times a herculean effort from the whole industry, promoters, GBGB, RPTV, the Fund and the goodwill of many others, the sport’s premier events will no longer be broadcast by Sky. Since its inception in 2013 this has always been seen as a flagship programme which served to showcase greyhound racing at its best and the exposure this offered to a wide audience cannot be underestimated. It was therefore extremely regrettable that whilst the funding was in place, Sky decided to pull out of the deal at the eleventh hour.

The unforeseen consequences of this decision could have a widespread impact on future funding for prize money for most of the calendar’s premier events. Promoters are likely to find it increasingly difficult to attract commercial sponsors without television coverage. We should therefore to be grateful that, despite the upheaval caused by the division of the rights between two distinct suppliers to the betting industry, Racing Post TV has found a way to maintain its presence on screen.

Media Rights

In January 2018 we saw a major change to the way media rights are controlled and delivered to betting shops with The Racing Partnership (TRP) entering the market, which to this point had always been the sole domain of SIS. With both providers maximising their opportunities and a greater number of meetings being broadcast, this will undoubtedly increase the pressure on an already stretched welfare sector.


The determination by Government that there should be a £2 maximum stake on machines in betting shops was a major blow to the industry. The Fund to this point has always relied heavily on the prosperity of the retail sector and it is believed that 30 to 40% of shops could now close as a result of this change. This would have a catastrophic impact on the Fund’s ability not just to meet the future plans of the sport but to maintain current commitments.


Our income for the twelve months ending 31st March 2018 once again held up reasonably well in a difficult trading conditions, and totalled just over £7.4m (2017: £7.5m).

This financial year we made an accounting profit, much of which is already spoken for by our plans which will be discussed in more detail below. Our need for additional funding remains as acute as ever and detailed proposals are in place for any extra income we are able to achieve.

As always it is our pleasure to show a full list of our supporters on page 24. We particularly welcomed the offer of support from JenningsBet during the period: JenningsBet has some 100 retail outlets and their commitment is a significant step forward for us. Our thanks to all our valued contributors.

Online betting: developments

bet365 has been a strong supporter of the BGRF over many years and the we took a huge and welcome step forward when Ladbrokes Coral Group became the first major retail company to undertake to pay in respect of their digital business, effective from January 2018 – this includes BETDAQ. They have been joined by Paddy Power Betfair, Betfred, William Hill (all of whom are already retail contributors) and new entrant Sky Betting & Gaming: our target is to gain full support from the online sector.

With such encouraging developments and the strong support of the Minister for Gambling Mims Davies we’ll be contacting the remaining non-paying companies in the near future.

At the time of writing it is not clear what the effect will be on our bottom line but the GBGB has worked hard to produce a flexible budget strategy to meet a range of outcomes.


2018 marked the announcement of the GBGB’s Greyhound Commitment which was widely welcomed by the sport, welfare professionals and Government alike. The challenge remains however how we may properly fund its wide ambitions.

Other welfare areas funded each year by the BGRF are: track sub-committee welfare projects, welfare research projects, training and welfare consultancy, veterinary sub-committee projects and research, and field-force welfare services. In addition, the stadia welfare support grant goes towards the veterinary attendance that is required by the Rules of Racing at the stadia.

Last calendar year welfare provision totalled some 42% of overall budget, with a total expenditure of £3.04m. In addition, prize money of £2.14m was expended, at 30% of budget (2018 budget: welfare of £3.15m, plus prize money of £2.4m).


Integrity provision includes drugs research and drugs testing at the stadia and the support of an integrity services field force. The number of positives seen each year continues to be very low and compares favourably to other sports. Race meetings are also supported with a grant towards paddock security.

In the calendar year 2017 we spent £1.35m or 19% of budget on integrity regulation (2018 budget: £1.4m or 19%).

Grants to Stadia

Grants to stadia expenditure remained static in the financial year at just under £100,000, shared between the 12 (of a total then of 23) racecourses who applied on the usual match-funded basis with a maximum grant of 50% or £10,000, whichever is the smaller. Full details of grants awarded are shown on page 25.

Sadly Hall Green Stadium closed in July 2017 as the operator was unable to sustain this treasured Midlands venue, leaving Belle Vue and Perry Barr within the GRA group. Sunderland and Newcastle were acquired from William Hill by Arc Racing at the end of July and continue to thrive under new management. Later, the loss of Towcester Stadium in June 2018 was a shock, as the venue had been seen by many as a flagship for the sport.

Overall in 2017, commercial expenditure including grants to stadia, marketing, IT, and breeders prizes totalled £671,840 or 9% of our budget (2018 budget: £647,000 or 9%).

Our website, www.bgrf.org.uk, has an interesting FAQ section if you’d like to know more about any of the areas we fund.


Just a brief note about taxation. On page 13 we show a high charge this year and this relates mainly to our decision to discontinue use of the Deferred Taxation Asset as an accounting method. We haven’t been able to make best use of this method in recent years and it has tended to suggest an artificially high reserve. In reality, we’ll pay less than £300 in corporation tax despite incurring a profit – largely because the Sky deal did not go ahead –(see Note 8 on page 19), so we have not wasted any of our precious resources.


During the year we said goodbye to a number of directors. Sadly, owners representative Paul Ephremsen was only able to serve for a short period before personal reasons obliged him to step down. Nevertheless, several of his proposals have been adopted.

Other directors who left us during the financial year were: Barry Faulkner former GBGB CEO, Clive Feltham, long-standing GBGB stalwart, David MacDonald (ABB representative), Joe O’Donnell, ABB representative who left us following the acquisition of William Hill stadia by Arc and Mike O’Kane who stepped down following the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral. There is not space to do justice to them here, but my heartfelt thanks to all of them for their voluntary service.

It came as a blow to lose John Gilburn, a GBGB representative who had served on the board, board committee and audit & finance committee. John died suddenly in October 2018 and will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues.

We welcomed Mark Bird (GBGB managing director); Simon Franklin (GBGB representative); Mike Jones and Richard Lang as the new ABB representatives. Tom Tuxworth of PaddyPower Betfair was a welcome nomination from the ABB in the autumn of 2017.

A full list of directors as at 31 March 2018 appears on page 23.

In passing I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to Jeremy Cooper who over the summer took up his post as chairman of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.

The Future

There has never been a straightforward year in prospect, as I recall, during my many years of involvement with greyhound racing in one guise or other. 2018-19 however is proving to be perhaps the most difficult year yet to forecast. So many worthwhile and positive strides forward, so many excellent initiatives and future plans developed by the GBGB depend entirely on having the voluntary funds available to finance them. We need some degree of certainty in order to plan not one year ahead, but five.

Greyhound racing has made huge progress this past year in demonstrating to Government how clean the sport is and how low our injury rates really are. Individuals who were stern critics are now willing to listen and to offer help.

Greyhound racing and betting have separate but closely interdependent existences. It is an enduring and popular betting medium, one of the mainstays of the retail betting outlets, and I am convinced that its online share can be developed with the right marketing. Let us all unite in confidence behind the GBGB in their efforts to raise the sport to a new level.

Joe Scanlon

Chairman, BGRF

January 2019

The BGRF Annual Report is available in full here.

Greyhound racing has many excellent initiatives and plans for the future

Joe Scanlon

Chairman BGRF

We now have close to full support from the online sector

Joe Scanlon

Chairman BGRF

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