The dogs may be barking but will the Government hear?; Intervention by DCMS is sport's only real hope.Byline: Jim Cremin
SINCE the United Nations seems to be in permanent session, perhaps it could turn its attention to the Great Greyhound War of 2002-2003, which is certainly a textbook case of how not to fight a foe boasting superior firepower.
The fearsome bookmaker alliance rules supreme within the free world when it comes to knowing how to use money as a weapon, in this case the threat to withhold it. This week's strike threats against them were therefore doomed.
Geoffrey Thomas Geoffrey Price Thomas is President of Kellogg College, Oxford and Director of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.
Thomas was born on 3 July 1941. , who's spent far too much time re-reading Churchill's speeches when he should have been studying a textbook on guerrilla warfare guerrilla warfare (gərĭl`ə) [Span.,=little war], fighting by groups of irregular troops (guerrillas) within areas occupied by the enemy. , must now feel like Saddam Hussain in terms of helplessness. Yesterday, however, he was boosted by the arrival of General Curran and his Fightin' Kinsley regiment - which galloped into action in the bookmakers' homeland, Fort Monmore.
Curran has noticed that the sole weakness of bookmakers, who dream of controlling everything, is they can't control the Government. He is intent on bringing it to the rescue.
The arguments have been complex, but the gist of it is that there is a system of payments by bookmakers to tracks, `the BAGS', which allow the rich to get richer, and the weak to get weaker.
Either we accept that is the way of the world, and the Kinsleys of the greyhound world can get stuffed (unfortunately it's odds-on that's exactly what will happen), or you think the interdependence within greyhound racing is something worth recognising and caring about.
Baffled bookmakers say it IS a commercial world, and as businessmen their duty is to only pay for what they use. An excellent point, but nevertheless mistaken. After all, they and Parliament recognised the alternative argument when, initially, Chancellor Lamont made a tax cut and said `greyhound racing' should also benefit. Not the BAGS tracks, mark you.
The British Greyhound Racing Fund resulted which, despite the knockers
Knockers, Knackers, Bwca (Welsh), Bucca (Cornish) or Tommyknockers , has done good work for the entire sport and to the benefit of all, including bookmakers - even the chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, who outrageously refuses to make even his tiny contribution.
Most recently we had what amounts to a huge tax cut - one providing bookmakers with record business - and with the Government again saying everyone should share the benefit.
Bookmakers cannot escape this duty, although as Warwick `refusenik' Bartlett proves, they enjoy great sport in attempting to do so.
Some might fall for believing that their 20 per cent offer to the BAGS tracks is a fair one, but this is heavily discounted by the negotiating power they have built up down the years,
particularly through the ownership of six supplier tracks. That price should have been much more, i.e. the BAGS tracks are only getting what they were entitled to in the first place.
Instead the issue is the need for more funding to go into the rest of the sport - a sport on its knees - and in the context of it being interdependent, because trainers, greyhounds, owners, NGRC and formbank costs etc are common to all. It is sensible for a deal to be negotiated.
Clearly Geoffrey Thomas should have been cannier. His now-infamous House of Commons House of Commons: see Parliament. speech was a gift to the bookmakers, but was rooted in the decades of unfairness the sport has endured. He, like those threatening strikes, could not contain himself.
One thing that was significant, though, was where it was made - a meeting room in the Commons - with DCMS (Digital Content Management System) See DAMS. officials, even the Minister himself, showing impressive levels of interest and patience.
This is something for greyhound racing to be grateful for, because only with tacit Government support can the sport ever find the ammunition to negotiate a fair deal with the bookmakers. General Curran, a wily Yorkshireman, is intent on bringing the argument back to that starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the .
Walthamstow's John Coleman John Coleman may be: