GRI’s budget for 2021 has been prepared against a very challenging and changing operating environment due to the impact of Covid-19.  The budget has taken account of the government’s plan Resilience & Recovery – Living with Covid under which greyhound racing is permitted under all 5 levels of the plan but with much reduced attendance permitted at Levels 1 & 2. 

Commenting on the budget, Frank Nyhan, Chairman, Rásaíocht Con Éireann/Greyhound Racing Ireland stated “The Board of RCÉ is very conscious of the impacts of the restrictions associated with Covid-19 on the wider greyhound industry.  It is hugely important to the industry that greyhound racing continues to operate at all of our tracks. This has been achieved despite the cessation of commercial activities through loss of gate admissions, tote operations and food & beverage income all of which have been very seriously impacted as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The budget for 2021 focuses on maintaining greyhound racing and progressing our primary objective of strengthening the greyhound industry through the introduction of a traceability system and an extensive Care & Welfare Programme both of which will stand to the industry in the medium to long-term. We are also ready to recommence our restaurant and tote operations when national circumstances permit full resumption.

The budget would not have been possible without the additional allocation of €2.4M from the Horse & Greyhound Fund which brings the 2021 allocation to €19.2M.  In that regard, the Board would like to express its thanks to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and his officials for their support to the greyhound industry.”

The main features of the 2021 Budget adopted by Rásaíocht Con Éireann are as follows:

  • - Prize money - an overall sum of €8.8M is provided for prize money for the year.  GRI will be further examining options for maximising the impact of the prize money budget taking account of the very high dog pools that are at present evident at all tracks.
  • - Traceability system - the budget provides for a full year of operation of a new traceability system for the racing greyhound.  GRI is currently finalising the implementation of a scanning project at all tracks and the introduction of a traceability system for all racing greyhounds.  Both projects will be completed by year end and statutory regulations will then be advanced to underpin the traceability system and to provide for the necessary level of enforcement.  The overall capital spend on the scanning and traceability projects is €300K with annual operating costs of €142K.
  • - Care & Welfare Programme – Income to the Care Fund has been very significantly reduced from an expected income of €740,000 in 2020 to a budgeted income of €249,000 in 2021.  It is hoped that as circumstances change and greater numbers of attendees are permitted to attend at greyhound tracks that income to the Care Fund will increase.  Notwithstanding the reduction in the Care Fund, GRI is intent on maintaining its ambitious Care & Welfare Programme and the following provisions have been made in the adopted budget. 
  • - Care & Welfare Programme - €991K
  • - National Greyhound Laboratory - €407K
  • - Veterinary care at tracks - €306K
  • - Regulation, integrity and traceability - €1.3M

Activities to be funded from the Care & Welfare Programme include:

  • - the continued operation of the recently opened Care Centre in Thurles, Co Tipperary and provision for the opening of a second Care Centre in 2021.
  • - Maintaining the financial contribution to the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust
  • - The continued operation of the Injuries at Tracks Financial Support scheme, the Foster-to-Adopt Scheme, financial incentives for domestic re-homings, grants to re-homing organisations and support for international re-homing initiatives. 

GRI is pleased at the increase in rehoming activity with total re-homings to date in 2020 being 1,245 as compared with 812 in the same period in 2019. 

  • - Sports Information Services (SIS) Programme – The budget provides for a continuation of the SIS programme at 7 tracks throughout the country.  SIS has advised GRI of its intention to terminate the Tralee Sunday evening meeting at end of 2020 due to the required level of turnover not being achieved by the bookmaking entities involved. SIS has requested that GRI would examine the possibility of a Monday early morning meeting for 2021.  Preliminary assessment of this option is at present underway in respect of Limerick Greyhound Stadium.
  • - Assistance to Private Tracks – GRI is conscious of the very difficult operating circumstances currently and in particular the impacts that Covid-19 restrictions have had in relation to the operation of private tracks.  During 2020 additional financial support was provided by GRI in the form of a grant of €8,000 towards meeting the costs involved.  A contingency sum has been provided in budget 2021 to maintain a level of financial support to private tracks in the event that the current restrictions continue during 2021.