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New report looks on the bright side; The second GBGB annual report is now available. Jim Cremin takes a look at it.

THE second annual report from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, covering 2010, has just been published. In the absence of a GBGB annual - a victim of budget cuts - the report allows welcome opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the year's champions. Owners involved will love to get copies, and Steve Nash's pictures, as always, are a joy.

The GBGB's first report, covering 2009, boasted an unusual front cover picture of Derby hero Kinda Ready on a set of evocative Avery scales at Harlow. This time another picture makes you stop, look and wonder 'what's that': the answer is two greyhounds trained by Lance Burford, Iceman Vader and Topstar Honcho, captured in mid-air in on his gallop.

Chief executive Barry Faulkner reflects on 2010 as being "a challenging year for the economy as a whole and greyhound racing as an industry was not immune to the effects of the recession".

He goes on: "After agreeing a Fund budget for the year of pounds 10m in late 2009, the Board had to announce a reduction to pounds 8.5m in late February followed by a further trimming to pounds 7.8m later in the year. These changes, while unwelcome, were managed efficiently, enabling core activities of the greyhound industry to be protected.

"It is to the Greyhound Board's credit that it achieved so much in such a difficult year."

This is certainly true. With Fund income collapsing, the budget for 2011 was initially set at a pessimistic pounds 6m, but thanks to the efforts of Faulkner plus Tom Kelly, the new Fund chairman, and hard work at Bags and SIS, the trend has been reversed, with the current budget now at pounds 8m. It is clearly helpful to have had Faulkner, a man who previously worked at Bags, in situ.

He joined the Board in early 2010 when (and this is me being kind) it was in disarray over the drug testing shambles.

Faulkner now describes the year as proving "one of consolidation as it set a firm foundation of its principal activities as the industry's governing body.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that ours is a wonderfully exciting sport and a fair betting medium, with all the integrity safeguards the betting industry, quite rightly, requires. As an industry we have also demonstrated our responsibility towards the wellbeing of our canine participants during and after racing, and we will continue to do so."

This is the nub of why an Annual Report is produced - at the cost of a few thousand pounds. It allows the sport to give a flavour of its true raison d'etre to MPs and the like who otherwise may only ever hear negativity from antis. In that sense it is great value and does the job effectively.

For the second year, though, the accounts are disappointingly sanitised and basically refer to Fund income, rather than the costs of the organisation - which is a negative.

Critics will find it a struggle to discover something to moan about here, but the positive thinking from Faulkner and his team, in such difficult financial circumstances, is also to be admired.

Copies are being sent out to all recipients of the Calendar, it can also be requested from GBGB, Procter House, 1 Procter St., London, WC1V 6DW
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2011
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