Greyhounds: IGB report suggests worst of slump is now over
It was no surprise to learn yesterday that there was a sharp decline in the attendance and betting figures at greyhound tracks during 2009 but the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) report suggests that the worst of the decline may be over.
The IGB's surplus during 2009 dropped from €5m in 2008 to €1m but the redundancy costs would have been a major factor in that decline. Attendances dropped by 21pc while Tote profits dropped by 15pc, down to €3.9m.
But what was significant was the improvement in the second half of the year and restaurant bookings actually showed an increase in the months of August and October while they held up well in the pre-Christmas period.
Despite all these negatives, prizemoney grants were maintained at the record-breaking level of €7.9m which had been achieved in 2008.
IGB CEO Adrian Neilan said: "This has been a difficult past 12 months across every sector of Irish society and our industry has borne the brunt of the general reduction in consumer spending.
"There is no question that 2010 will be another difficult year but we take heart from the fact that the decline in attendance was less in the second half of 2009 than in the first six months."
The big news on the track front is that the Easter Cup will have a new sponsor this year after almost 30 years under the Danny Reilly/BCR banner.
It has been confirmed that Mike McKenna has agreed to sponsor the prestigious early-season event and it will be known as the College Causeway/Killahan Phanter Easter Cup.
The Easter Cup is the longest-standing greyhound competition in the calendar and actually commenced back in 1928, four years before the inaugural Irish Derby.
The first two runnings were won by Odd Blade and the legendary Mick The Miller actually finished second in the 1929 final.
Many of the greatest trackers of all time have won the Easter Cup, including the unique Spanish Battleship who won it in 1954 and '55.
This year's event will commence on March 27, with the final to be run on April 17. The distance will again be 550 yards and the prizemoney will be confirmed at a later date.