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Greyhounds: Thomas claims ministerial backing.

GEOFFREY THOMAS, chief executive of the British Greyhound Racing Board, yesterday warmly welcomed the comments of Stephen Timms, the financial secretary to the Treasury, in Saturday's Racing Post.

Thomas said: "The Minister stated firmly that he expects `greyhound racing to benefit' from the removal of betting tax and switch to a more favourable tax on bookmaking profits. The key words were that he has created `an environment in which everyone can see benefits'."

Thomas went on: "I'm not pretending he's endorsing our funding plan [which asks for a jump in bookmaker payments from pounds 10m a year to pounds 38m], and he's made plain he's leaving it to the greyhound and betting industries to reach agreement-which means it's up to us to get our act together and collectively value our rights."

Bookmakers, says Thomas, will clearly be able to afford to pay more. "They are expected to enjoy a betting bonanza when betting tax is removed, and it's not a question of them being struggling to stay afloat. If greyhound racing sticks together, we can strike a new deal to benefit everybody."

Insiders within leading greyhound promoters accept the pounds 38m claim is `pie in the sky', but they do believe a doubling of income to pounds 20m is achievable.

Much interest surrounds what the Office of Fair Trading will make of the BAGS system of contracts, about which the BGRB has lodged a formal complaint. If these are found anti-competitive, the much trumpeted new three-year contracts between BAGS and its tracks could be ruled meaningless.

Bookmakers are already highly sensitive to the potential damage a negative OFT ruling could have to their position, and the possible establishment of a whole new system of funding.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 20, 2001
Previous Article:Sport on TV: Pick of the day.
Next Article:Greyhounds: Annual Tote figures: How GRA bets to 135 per cent.

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