Joe Scanlon, Chairman, BGRF
BGRF income for the year 2022-2023 totalled £7.6m, substantially up on last year’s income of £6.65m. Bookmakers’ voluntary contributions are made to the BGRF six months in arrears and so this total reflected bookmaker trading on the sport of greyhound racing for the year 1st October 2021 to 30th September 2022, showing some recovery post-pandemic but nevertheless appearing somewhat disappointing when compared with pre-Covid trends.
Unlike horseracing, greyhound contributions are non-statutory, though the major contributors have been consistent in their support since the outset of the BGRF and moreover back their contributions with our system of voluntary auditors’ statements. However, whilst Government has recently announced that the Horserace Levy will be reviewed in 2024, the BGRF has no such mechanism and will rely instead on a further voluntary agreement to be reached between the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and the bookmakers. Whilst our aspirations have never been higher, our income has fallen over the past ten years in real terms by nearly 25%. It is my hope that both sides of the industry will come together as they did in 2006 with the help of the good offices of DCMS under the chairmanship of Lord Lipsey to find solutions to address this shortfall.
During the year BGRF grants have continued to focus on our core values of animal welfare and integrity for the sport. We continue to express our wholehearted support for the work of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain as they proceed to implement their Greyhound Strategy under the leadership of Professor Madeleine Campbell. The GBGB still faces many pressures on the political front as they seek to convince decision-makers in Westminster, the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd that the sport of greyhound racing is absolutely welfare-centred and provides enjoyable entertainment worthy of political support.
During the year we were delighted when Oxford Stadium reopened under Kevin Boothby, a well-known and established promoter, taking the total of GBGB-regulated stadia now to twenty. Greyhound racing remains one of the most popular spectator sports and the individual stadia are important leisure assets, as well as employers, in their local communities. We should never underestimate the commitment of the promoters and stadia staff in providing excellent welfare provision, including significant investment in safe running surfaces and track preparation, all of which is regulated and backed by the GBGB.
We thank our contributors for their support as always and we list these on page 22 of the Annual Report and Accounts. The betting industry has faced many serious challenges over the past few years, despite which the major bookmakers remain wholly committed to supporting the BGRF. The GBGB, on behalf of the sport, is charged with all aspects of political representation and works with the betting industry with shared values and an absolute focus on welfare provision to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for greyhound racing. There are many challenges facing both sides however, both legislative and the ongoing problems of high inflation and increasing interest rates and the board of the BGRF remains a useful forum for the two sides to come together to reach united decisions.
The sport of greyhound racing has now been around for over one hundred years and I am confident that despite the many challenges we face it will prove to be resilient for the future.
Chairman, British Greyhound Racing Fund