Thursday 22 August 2019

Blow for Irish greyhound racing as Longford and Lifford tracks to close

Another occasion worth a mention is tonight's Longford card, where the final of the Michael McPhillips Memorial A6 will be run
Another occasion worth a mention is tonight's Longford card, where the final of the Michael McPhillips Memorial A6 will be run

Stephen Bennett

Longford Greyhound Stadium will close its doors at the end of this month, according to a statement released today.

The stadium operators said that it is to cease operations at the end of August 2019, citing mounting bills and rising costs.

"Our insurance premium quote for this year was more than double the amount paid last year, reflecting challenges across the wider sports, entertainment and hospitality sectors," the statement read.

"Even if the stadium could find the money needed to pay these bills, this would only be a short term measure without further financial assistance from the IGB (Irish Greyhound Board). The IGB have stated that it is not within their mandate to offer assistance in meeting any of these costs."

The Irish Greyhound Board said in a statement: "The IGB very much regrets the closure of Longford Greyhound Stadium and its wider impact on staff, owners and the greyhound community.

"The IGB wishes to acknowledge the excellent work done over a long period of time by all those at the track as part of the wider greyhound industry fraternity."

The news comes after it was announced that Lifford greyhound stadium in Donegal - which underwent a €12m overhaul in 2003 - will close after its Saturday August 17 meeting.

While the owners of the Lifford track - the Duffy family - have cited "an ongoing lack of support from the Irish Greyhound Board", the IGB have responded, claiming that they have given the track's owners all the assistance it possibly could.

"The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) notes the decision of Lifford Greyhound Stadium to cease operations," the IGB said in a statement.

"The IGB very much regrets the closure of Lifford Greyhound Stadium and its impact on staff, owners and the wider greyhound community.

"The IGB is very aware of the excellent work done by all those at the track as part of the greyhound fraternity. The Duffy family, owners of the track, have a long association and strong commitment to greyhound racing.

"While Lifford is a private track and not in the ownership of the Irish Greyhound Board, the IGB has provided wide ranging support to Lifford for a long period of time.

"This included a significant capital financial investment in providing the current facilities at the stadium. The IGB has engaged with Lifford in recent times regarding financial difficulties at the track, which included a meeting between the Board and Lifford’s owners in May 2019.

"However, the arrangement of the type sought by the stadium representatives at that time is not within the mandate of the Board as a semi-state company and does not meet the corporate governance requirements applying to the IGB.

"Indecon Economic Consultants is currently conducting a comprehensive, strategic review into the future needs of the Irish greyhound industry, with a full report expected by October 2019.

"The review will provide an assessment of stadium infrastructure and financial sustainability, along with detailed recommendations regarding all licensed stadia."

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