Griffiths: funding key issue for 2018
Article published in Racing Post
29/01/18 Issue 10,773 – racingpost.com
Robert Griffiths, interim chairman of the GBGB, told last night’s annual awards gala that funding is the biggest issue facing greyhound racing if all objectives are to be achieved, writes Jonathan Kay.
Griffiths said: “this is probably the most important issue facing greyhound racing and is yet to be resolved. I am convinced that it can be and has to be if the industry is to remain viable
“in that regard the board is extremely grateful for the efforts of Lord Lipsey in conducting mediations between GBGB and the bookmakers.
“I also applaud the announcement in August last year of Ladbrokes Coral that they would make a significant contribution to the Greyhound fund from their offshore streaming profits.
“I call upon all bookmakers to make that same commitment so that the GBGB can further enhance Greyhound racing as a whole in such a way as to enable all our sporting and welfare objectives to be achieved.”
Griffiths also reflected on a 12 month period which saw a new home for the Derby but the closure of three venues.
“It was a very pleasurable experience for me to attend the Derby relocated to Towcester. It’s an impressive venue of which Lord Hesketh must be very proud.
“May I pay tribute to Lord Hesketh and his staff for the herculean effort they put in to develop and deliver the derby in their first year.
“it was a great success and we are so pleased that they have agreed to host this prestigious event again in 2018. The year, however, has been tinged with sadness in that we saw the closure of Wimbledon Stadium after 89 years of racing.
“All the Greyhound world, and indeed the sports world generally, have mourned and lamented the loss of this track. We also lost Hall Green which was after 90 years of racing and Mildenhall to after almost 3 decades of operation.”
However, Griffiths said all is not doom and gloom. “These closures should not in any way be regarded as a sign of a decline in greyhound racing in this country,” he said.
“There is a lot happening and from my vantage point as chairman of the board I see opportunities arising which I believe will result in the enhancement of this sport.
“We have to remember that in sports generally times are a changing and in the current environment one cannot rest on one’s laurels. All sports have to adapt to changing circumstances and needs.
“The Board is determined to achieve its objectives of making Greyhound racing pleasurable and rewarding experience for so many people who enjoy it as competitive and exciting event. It has traditions and a pedigree which compare favourably with any sport in this country.”
Griffiths pastry dudes to leading industry figures Tom Kelly, Clive Feltham, John Curran, and Barry Faulkner who have all stepped down from key roles.
While reflecting on the new appointments, he said: “Mark Bird has now taken up his position as managing director for GBGB. He retains his other position as director of regulation
“We have certainly got value for our money in marrying those two positions. It again reflects the strategy aimed at taking greyhound racing forward in an efficient, professional and disciplined way.
“I am confident that under his leadership Greyhound racing in this country will thrive and that the industry will receive adequate funding to enable it to achieve its true potential as great sporting entertainment.
“This year we also saw the appointment of two new directors, Peter Harnden, representing trainers and Paul Ephremsen on behalf of the owners. Both have made a special contribution to the board and understand the importance of carrying out their Board duties in such a way as to balance the interests of those they represent and the interests of the Board as a whole.
“In greyhound racing that is not an easy balance maintain. As chairman I am determined to make sure we get that right. Although Paul, sadly, has decided to stand down from the board for personal reasons and because of his commitments elsewhere, he has expressed a desire to be used as a sounding board from time to time. I understand his reasons for stepping aside and am grateful for his continued support.”