Leon Blanche to join Greyhound Racing Ireland as chief commercial officer

Boylesports head of communications and sponsorship takes on new role at State greyhound body

Boylesports communications head Leon Blanche is leaving the bookmaker to take on the newly-created role of chief commercial officer at Greyhound Racing Ireland.

Mr Blanche, well-known in sports and business, confirmed this week that he will shortly join the State greyhound racing body following 17 years at Boylesports. He is taking on the newly-created post of chief commercial officer at Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI), where he will have overall responsibility for communications, marketing, sponsorship and hospitality.

“Our main aim will be to get more people going greyhound racing,” Mr Blanche said of his new job.

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He added that the sport was already doing good job of attracting audiences and commercial backers “but there are a number of different areas that myself and the team can work to improve”, he noted.

He is already familiar with the organisation, its people and the sport through Boylesports’ sponsorship of the Irish Greyhound Racing Derby.

“This opportunity was too good to turn down. This is a massive, massive industry,” he said

Mr Blanche pointed out that there are 14 greyhound racing stadiums across the State, including all the main population centres, which illustrates the sport’s appeal.

A report by economist Jim Power, published last year, showed that the sport contributes €133 million a year to the Irish economy while more than 4,000 owners invest €118 million in it annually.

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In 2019, before Covid halted activity, greyhound racing contributed €95 million to the exchequer. In the same year, the sport, its fans and participants raised €8 million for charities and good causes around the State.

Mr Blanche stressed that the greyhounds’ welfare is the number one priority for GRI for everyone involved in the sport. He said he had already witnessed this first-hand through his involvement in Boylesports’ sponsorship.

“The care, love and affection that the people involved have for the greyhound is second to none,” he said. “The welfare of the greyhound is the number one priority and always has to be the number one priority.”

Close to 4,000 dogs have been rehomed by the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust, the GRI-backed body established for this purpose.

Mr Blanche is head of communications and sponsorship at Boylesports, which he joined in 2005.

Along with the greyhound derby, he was also involved in the independent bookmaker’s backing of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and Birmingham City Football Club.

Mr Blanche thanked Boylesports founder John Boyle for the opportunities had given him and said he had been privileged to work with some tremendous people in the business.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas