Greyhound body warns of funding issues at tracks

The chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board has warned that the body cannot keep funding tracks which are not giving a return on money spent.

Greyhound body warns of funding issues at tracks

Geraldine Larkin sounded the warning in the IGB’s just published report for 2013, which shows that the body responsible for the regulation of the sport in Ireland slipped into the red that year, with pre-tax losses amounting to €171,744.

That performance represented a negative annual swing of €479,813, as it followed the IGB recording a pre-tax profit of €308,069 in 2012. The IGB’s net debt at the end of 2013 stood at €21.8m. A note attached to the accounts stated that its credit facilities are to expire at the end of 2016 and are on an interest-only basis.

The heavily indebted board recorded an operating profit of €330,514 in 2013 and interest payments of €502,258 resulted in the pre-tax loss.

The IGB operates nine stadiums, at Shelbourne Park and Harold’s Cross, in Dublin; and at Cork, Limerick, Youghal, Waterford, Tralee, Galway, and Mullingar. It also took over the running of Newbridge Stadium in March 2013.

The latest annual report, showing a 3.5% drop in revenue to €39m, has only been published in recent days, after Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was asked in the Dail as to when it would be released.

Adrian Neilan stepped down as IGB chief executive in January 2014 and the accounts show that he received €204,481 in 2013, made up of a basic salary of €162,043, pension costs of €38,315, and other remuneration of €4,123.

In 2013, the numbers going to greyhound meetings declined by 4.5%, from 720,470 to 687,510, with the average attendance at meets totalling 392. The publication of the annual report follows on from a stark Indecon study of the IGB’s finances and governance structures last year. Part of the IGB’s response to that report involved putting its Harold’s Cross venue up for sale.

Ms Larkin was appointed chief executive in July last year and in her comments accompanying the 2013 report, she said: “While some tough decisions were initially required, we are confident that Bord na gCon can be restored to a profitable organisation which people will be proud to be involved with.” She warned: “This will not be easy.”

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