The audit of RCÉ’S annual accounts 2020 has been completed by the Comptroller & Auditor General. The accounts have been forwarded to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for consideration; for placing before Cabinet and for laying before the Houses of the Oireachtas. RCÉ is not in a position to publish the final accounts until these processes have been completed.
The commercial performance of RCÉ was heavily impacted during 2020 as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The accounts record an operating surplus (before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortisation and defined benefit pension costs) of €2.2M. Income from general, admissions, tote and Food & Beverage operations was virtually eliminated for most of the year. This necessitated a significant reduction in overall staffing levels both part-time and full-time together with a critical review of all areas of expenditure.
The continued reduction in operational costs, evident in previous years, was part of the overall focus of increasing efficiencies and cost reduction. RCÉ also availed of various government support schemes in place to mitigate the financial impact arising from Covid-19.
The focus of RCÉ was on maintaining racing activity and ensuring that the care and welfare needs of racing greyhounds could be appropriately addressed. During the period of suspension of racing activity from March to June 2020, RCÉ put in place a Covid-19 Greyhound Care Payment Scheme whereby a daily payment was made in respect of participating racing greyhounds to ensure that the care and welfare needs of the greyhounds were met. Total spend of €998K was spent on the scheme.
Income to the greyhound Care Fund was severely impacted with a reduction from an anticipated budget of €740K to an actual income of €223K. Notwithstanding this, RCÉ continued its implementation of the RCÉ Care & Welfare Programme with the following initiatives being progressed in 2020:
Despite the disruption to racing activity due to Covid-19, there were 1,085 race events held during the year accommodating 11,651 races.
Total prize money for the year was €6.1M. Sale of media rights from Tralee, Youghal, Mullingar, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny generated fees of €1.5M which represented a decrease of 27.7% compared with 2019 due to the suspension of all racing activity for part of the year.
The reduction in income necessitated a significant reduction in expenditure including overall payroll costs. Permanent full-time staff at 31st December 2020 stood at 116 no. staff as compared with 125 no. staff at the end of 2019. RCÉ also availed of government support schemes during 2020 including the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
Despite the interruption to racing due to Covid restrictions, a total of 4,251 samples were analysed by the INAB accredited National Greyhound Laboratory in 2020. From the samples analysed, 11 adverse analytical findings (0.26%) were returned. Four exclusion orders were issued by RCÉ during 2020.
Much work was also done on improving online activity with live streaming of racing taking place on the Talking Dogs platform. RCÉ in conjunction with our tote technology partners, Sportech, completed all the relevant work to upgrade the tote platform to the Quantum tote system. Quantum is the most widely applied tote betting system in the world. The rollout of the system to individual sites will be completed in 2021 subject to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.