Firm behind Harold’s Cross greyhound track wrote off €6.5m from sale

Dublin track sold to Department of Education in 2018 for €23m, sparking political row

Accounts filed by the Harold’s Cross stadium owner, Dublin Greyhound and Sports Association Ltd, show that the company paid a €13.95m dividend to Bord na gCon from the sale price. File photograph: Inpho

Accounts filed by the Harold’s Cross stadium owner, Dublin Greyhound and Sports Association Ltd, show that the company paid a €13.95m dividend to Bord na gCon from the sale price. File photograph: Inpho

 

The company behind the now-closed Harold’s Cross greyhound track “wrote off” €6.5 million from its controversial €23 million sale last year, its latest accounts show.

State greyhound racing body Bord na gCon sold the Dublin track to the Department of Education in 2018 for €23 million, sparking a political row over the high price paid for the property.

The sale followed protests from greyhound owners and trainers, who opposed the closure.

Accounts filed by the track’s owner, Dublin Greyhound and Sports Association Ltd, show that the company paid a €13.95 million dividend to Bord na gCon from the sale price.

The figures list a €6.5 million “write-down of assets” among the costs incurred against the €23 million the Government paid for the site, along with €1 million in professional fees, and sums for loan interest and operating expenses.

Long-term debt

This left Harold’s Cross with a €15.1 million profit from the deal, which it used to pay its parent the dividend. Bord na gCon, in turn, used this to repay a long-term debt that lay behind the decision to sell the track in the first place.

After the sale in 2018, Bord na gCon chief executive Gerard Dollard said that the money would allow the body set aside €6 million to spend on improving other greyhound tracks.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane confirmed that Mr Dollard told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last month that the board earmarked €5.8 million “surplus funds” from the sale for work at other stadiums.

These included work at Shelbourne Park, the capital’s remaining greyhound stadium, improvements to fire safety, closed-circuit TV and vets’ facilities at courses around the Republic, grants to privately-owned tracks for health and safety improvements, and a race management system.

‘Spurious write-downs’

However, Fianna Fáil TD and PAC member Marc MacSharry claimed that the Harold’s Cross deal “stank to high heaven”, as the Department of Education had paid €23 million for a site valued at €12 million.

Mr McSharry questioned “revelations about spurious write-downs in the accounts, particularly when they seem to coincide with amounts spent on improvements to tracks around the country”.

Bord na gCon did not respond to a request for a comment on the figures. Dublin Greyhound and Sports Association will be wound up later this year.

Accounts for Shelbourne Greyhound Stadium Ltd show it recorded a profit of €315,469 in 2018 against a €115,476 loss the previous year. Protests over the proposed sale of Harold’s Cross forced Shelbourne Park to close for several weeks in 2017.