Bord na gCon has reported a large increase in its operating surplus for 2015, although numbers attending greyhound meetings continued to fall.
The latest accounts filed by Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, show it recorded a surplus of over €2.3m in 2015 – up from just under €700,000 in 2014. However, the surplus was largely attributable to an increase in funding from the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund which went up from €10.8m in 2014 to €13.6m in 2015. The profit from actual racing activities declined to €617,502 from over €805,000 in 2014.
Total income rose by almost 14% to €28.2m largely due to the decision by the board to bring its food and beverage operations back in-house. However, total prize money declined – down to €6.7m from €7.5m in 2014. Overall attendances at race meetings were also down 1.4% to 635,289, although average attendances per meeting were up 4.5% to 387 due a reduction in the actual number of race nights.
As part of its implementation of recommendations contained in a hard-hitting report by Indecon, the board said it had reduced the number of greyhound meetings in 2015, to 1,642 from 1,736 the previous year. The 2014 report sharply criticised Bord na gCon over its corporate governance, particularly in relation to the expenditure of €23m on a new stadium in Limerick, as well as doping controls and animal welfare sanctions,
The board’s chairman, Phil Meaney welcomed its return to reporting an operating surplus, claiming it had allowed Bord na gCon to increase race grants by 25% in 2016 and introduce other racing supports for the benefit of the public.
However, Mr Meaney said on-course betting at greyhound tracks, like in other sports, continued to decline in 2015 but at a much lower level compared to previous years. Turnover on the tote was down 1.5% to €19.6m. The commercial semi-state body said there had also been positive feedback to the broadcasting of live greyhound racing from Mullingar, Youghal and Tralee to bookmakers’ shops. Bord na gCon was branded a “disgrace” last week by Fine Gael TD, Peter Burke, at a meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee over the delays in publishing its accounts when it was receiving €260,000 a week in State funding. The board also faced criticism over its controversial decision to sell Harolds Cross – one of the key recommendations in the Indecon report to help the board clear its debts which stood at €21.6m in 2015.
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