Irish industry still feeling effects of Shelbourne absence.
Byline: Michael Fortune
THE impact of the 22-week closure of Shelbourne Park in 2017 during protests over the sale of Dublin's second track Harold's Cross is again highlighted by the Irish Greyhound Board annual report which has been completed by the Office of the Comptroller & Auditor General.
The accounts confirm a group operating surplus of €1.67 million (EBITDA), a reduction from €3.2 million in 2016. Total prizemoney in 2017 was €8 million including a general 25% increase in prize-money from October 2017. The published accounts are in line with financial data released as part of the IGB's interim statement in March 2018.
Total attendances were reduced by circa 122,000 to 514,546 customers in 2017. The disruption to racing at Shelbourne Park also adversely impacted on other income streams, principally all tote betting platforms. The impact of cancelled racing continued at Shelbourne for the remainder of the year, despite its return in June 2017.
Tote income was €15.9 million, while winnings of €11.3m were paid out. Exchequer support from the Horse & Greyhound Fund increased to €16 million, while staff remuneration costs reduced from €10.1m to €9.6m with the number of employees dropping from 243 in 2016 to 225 in 2017.
The long term debt was further reduced to €16.2 million at year further of € he ther .2 r end with a her overdraf€5.8 million.
Hars The sale of Harold's Cross has now addressed the debt burden.
w G B CEO ard Dollard: "The disrupto I Gerard said: disruption to racing at our premier stadium Shelbourne Park had a very significant impact across m lbourne ery p all operations. The IGB together with the greyhound sector has been working to return the industry to growth, the early signs of which had been evident in recent years.
"The focus has been on increasing prize-money and reducing our cost base, which is evident in 2017. The significant debt burden had acted as a financial strait-jacket on our industry in recent years.
"The disposal of the Harold's Cross has enabled IGB to set aside some €6m for investment in the industry. Proposals include a major upgrade at Shelbourne Park (€3m), other stadia improvements (€2m) and significant improvements in information and communications technology (€1m).
"Our recently launched Strategic Plan 2018-2022 offers a platform to build for the future. The allocation from the Horse & Greyhound Fund supports 5,000 jobs and 7,000 greyhound owners, the vast majority of which are based around our 15 tracks outside Dublin.
"The Fund, which places a levy on off-course bookmakers, has been essential to sustain this employment since the economic recession.
"The greyhound sector contributes €300 million in additional economic activity. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Minister must be support in this regard."
ister Andrew Doyle TD macknowledged for their