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20/09/2021

Greyhound industry decline cannot be pinned on Covid

Bar One Irish Sprint Cup quarter-final draw revealed following eventful weekend at Dundalk Stadium, writes Joe Carroll

The greyhound industry's fall from grace was well underway before Covid-19 struck, argues Nuala Donlon

Dear Editor,

The recently published report by Jim Power entitled ‘The Economic and Financial Significance of the Irish Greyhound Industry’ can be summed up in one word – decline.

By commissioning this report in the middle of the Covid pandemic, the greyhound board were no doubt hoping that the decline could be pinned on the fallout from lockdown. But the key findings for the year 2019 show that this industry’s demise was well under way before Covid struck.

Compared with Power’s previous report of the same title based on performance in 2016, the 2019 figures can leave no one in any doubt where this industry is headed.

Average attendance at race meetings down 28 percent; number of trainers down 26 percent; employment through betting down 35 percent; direct and indirect employment down 18 percent; the economic value of that employment down 17 percent. These figures plummet even more dramatically when the 2020 figures are applied.

While the slump in activities outlined above is acknowledged in the Power report, a preponderance of blame is assigned to Covid, rather than to systemic decline.

The report claims that it will be possible to exceed pre-Covid levels of attendance at race meetings by 36 percent in 2023. No evidence is presented to support this very questionable claim.

When the RTE documentary Running For Their Lives exposed the nasty underbelly of this industry two years ago, the Irish public were, rightfully, sickened to the core. The death knell of greyhound racing had been sounded.

What Jim Power fails to acknowledge in his report is that the genie is out of the bottle, and no amount of wishful thinking or expensive reports will put it back in.

Yours etc,

Nuala Donlon, Spokesperson Greyhound Action Ireland

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