The Irish Greyhound Board yesterday confirmed that historic greyhound track Harold’s Cross is to be sold following recommendations that were made in the Indecon report. Whilst appearing before Ireland’s committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the IGB gave their formal response to the report which included plans for asset disposals, including the sale of this dog track.
IGB CEO Geraldine Larkin said: “We will seek planning permission for the entire site and take it forward under that basis,” “it’s not an easy decision or one that was done lightly.”
Larkin has been forced to make various cuts and is currently faced with the task of trying to achieve an operating profit of €3.5m by 2017. This is going to be a very difficult job, with Irish greyhound racing in somewhat of a decline. The sport has been operating at a loss for quite some time and debts in excess of €20m have now been accrued. Harold’s Cross is one of the many tracks which have not been able to turn a profit and while it is very unfortunate that this venue is to close its doors permanently, it is a necessary evil to secure the future of dog racing in Ireland.
The decision to sell Harold’s Cross has been met with stiff opposition from owners, and Vice President of the DGOBA Jimmy O’Hanlon feels particularly strongly about the upcoming closure.
“It is absolutely ridiculous. The IGB have put themselves in this position by developing the track in Limerick and leaving themselves in debt. Now, we’re losing our racing track,” said Mr O’Hanlon.
“They have two tracks in Tipperary in Thurles and Clonmel.
“Surely if they have two tracks in Tipperary we can have two in Dublin. A lot of people are going to have to get out of the game now,” he added.
A number of owners and trainers alike could now be forced out of the game on the back of the Harold’s Cross sale, and it is certainly a bleak time for Irish greyhound racing.