PART V: Transition to the new Greyhound Board of Great Britain.

Chapter 16

GREYHOUND BOARD OF GREAT BRITAIN TRANSITION ARRANGEMENTS

The First Steps

Moving from the present, often-complex structure of regulation and governance in the British greyhound racing industry to the new unitary body proposed in this Report will require careful and detailed planning. During the (we recommend short) period of transition, the intensive regulatory activities of the NGRC, the current administration by the BGRB and the daily commercial and sporting operations of the racetrack promoters will have to proceed unhindered until the new arrangements are in place.

However, while racing business continues as normal, a new system for running greyhound racing must be minutely prepared so that the final transition is seamless. The present governing and regulatory boards must immediately go through their constitutional processes to agree and implement the changes - a challenging process since not all members will automatically be enthused with the prospect of reform. Existing legal arrangements and relationships must be properly terminated and fresh ones put in place. New staff may need to be recruited and existing staff must be readied for their new situations, possibly in a new location and with unfamiliar colleagues. This project of transition will be testing and time-consuming. Below we suggest ways in which the schedule of this transition may be conducted with efficiency and, most importantly, without the kind of delays which might jeopardize the whole project.

The key to moving rapidly and effectively to the proposed new system for governing and regulating British greyhound racing will, in our view, be the swift establishment of a body to supervise that process of transition - which might be called the Transition Committee. In addition to it, there needs to be set up a separate Appointments and Nominations Committee to oversee the appointments of officers to the new Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).

The Transition Committee

The Transition Committee should be appointed and convened as rapidly as constitutionally possible after the publication of this Report. It should not be a representative body, though the key stakeholders, the BGRB and the NGRC, should be represented on it in order to help carry the support of their members for its decisions. Its prime purpose would be speedy decision-making and overseeing the implementation of these decisions to ensure an efficient transition to the new GBGB. Therefore the Transition Committee should be small in number and composed of those best qualified to secure that prime objective. Our suggestion is that it might contain 5 members: for example, one of the three independent appointees on the BGRB, a Steward of the NGRC, a representative of the Promoters Association and the 2 independent authors of this report to ensure momentum towards conclusions in line with the Report. Thus a majority of the Transition Committee would be independent while the three main constituent parties of the industry - the Board, the NGRC and the Promoters - would be present to represent and deliver those stakeholders. The chairman of this Transition Committee should be independent and not from any of the current stakeholder bodies.

It is also very important that one member of the Transition Committee should have the central role and responsibility for coordinating all aspects of the transition and for moving the reform agenda swiftly forward. This position, which might be termed the Transition Coordinator, could appropriately be held by the present Assistant to the Chairman of this Review, who is a proven administrator with intimate knowledge of the thinking behind the reform proposals.

We envisage that the Transition process will be initiated jointly by the BGRB and the NGRC who commissioned this Report.

The Appointments and Nominations Committee

The Appointments and Nominations Committee would oversee the advertisements, interviews and recommended selections for vacancies at the new GBGB. Its conclusions would be submitted to the Transition Committee, with the expectation that they would not be rejected without serious cause. We consider that, in setting up the new bodies, the principal economic drivers of the industry should play the main role in selecting the key senior appointments within the governance and regulatory structure and thus recommend that the Committee be composed of 3 members (none of whom would be assumed to have an interest in any vacancies) comprising the chairman of the Transition Committee sitting with two members of the BGRF, one nominated from among the promoters on the BGRF Board and one from among the bookmakers. The Appointments and Nominations Committee would be assisted by the Transition Co-ordinator.

The Transition Committee at its first meeting should confirm which GBGB vacancies should be subject to public advertisement. (As a private body the GBGB need not necessarily be subject to the 'Nolan Rules' for the public sector, though it might adopt some of them as `good governance').

The positions of independent directors on the new Board might appropriately be subject to open competition, as certainly should be the chairmen of both the GBGB Main Board and the Greyhound Regulatory Board, as well as the new post of Chief Executive, whose total remuneration should be sufficient to attract properly qualified candidates working in London. Appointments for other staff positions will depend on which, if any, vacancies emerge. However it is our view that many existing staff are well qualified to serve in equivalent positions on the new body. However, all these questions of principle and of detail on appointments would be for the Transition Committee to decide and the Appointments and Nominations Committee to implement where necessary.

The Agenda for the Transition Committee

The agenda for the first meeting of the Transition Committee will be critical in giving priority to those issues which must be processed with expedition in order to achieve the agreed timetable - which itself should be a main item for decision. These initial issues might include:

  • The job descriptions of any new appointments should be agreed and passed to the Appointments and Nominations Committee in order that, where relevant, the advertisements, interviews and recommendations for these positions might be executed as soon as possible.
  • The legal and accountancy firms employed to oversee the formal transitions to the new GBGB structure should be appointed and instructed to proceed promptly with the necessary preparatory work.

In the above appointments processes, it should be emphasised that the persons and parties currently in post, having the virtues of relevant experience and continuity, would be considered for renewal and should be encouraged to apply along with outside candidates.

  • A paper should be commissioned immediately to examine possible property sites for the future location of the new GBGB. Work on this paper might be overseen by the proposed Transition Coordinator, operating in conjunction with the chairman of the BGRB and the Chief Executive of the NGRC. They might utilise the recent experience of the BGRB when seeking new premises and urgently bear in mind the length of time usually taken when moving premises.
  • A public relations media strategy should be commissioned - not reactive but producing a positive campaign culminating in the launch of the new GBGB in 2008.
  • Crucially, the funding arrangements for the transition process must be secured as soon as possible. A realistic budget should be rapidly prepared including the costs of legal services; audit and accountancy; recruitment; advertising; IT; public relations; consultancy (particularly in relation to the new IT arrangements required by the GBGB and with reference to the number of additional stewards to be appointed by the GRRB); printing; relocation; and the Transitional Committee's own expenses. This budget should be confirmed urgently by the Transition Committee and submitted to the BGRF and the bookmakers for their agreement or amendment. It has been estimated that 500K will be needed to implement the transition and such funds should be separately ring-fenced. Arrangements for the industry's 2008 budget may need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • At this first meeting of the Transition Committee there should be proposed and agreed a detailed timetable for the achievement of each of the specific conditions necessary for a successful ultimate transition to the new GBGB - which should take in all no more than 6 months. A paper outlining this timetable could be prepared and presented by the Transition Coordinator.

Defra, DCMS and the bookmakers should be informed of the proceedings and decisions of this and subsequent meetings of the Transition Committee.

It is crucial that clear decisions be taken at the first meeting of the Transition Committee on the above issues of appointments, legal preparations, finance, location, relations with government, media and stakeholders, and on the schedule for achieving the necessary conditions for a successful transition to the new GBGB within the agreed timetable. Although we recognise that stakeholder members of the Transition Committee may feel it necessary to refer back to their constituents, it would be helpful if they secured prior authority to agree items on the above agenda. The early appointment of a new Chief Executive would facilitate the timely achievement of this transition process.

At subsequent regular meetings, the Transition Committee would be primarily concerned to ensure that this agreed timetable is being met. The agendas for those meetings would reflect that need. Therefore the committee would be occupied with such matters as the legal establishment of the GBGB and the GRB, the appropriate amendment of all regulatory documents, the contracts of employment for staff, the new IT arrangements and the reorganisation of databases as suggested in this Report, and any move to new premises. It would be important to monitor the progress of the legal advisers to ensure that all documentation for the new GBGB is in place within the proposed timetable and within the budget.

The Transition Committee should arrange to be informed of all concurrent decisions by the BGRB and the NGRC during this period which might have relevant implications - especially financial implications - for the transition process or for the future working of the GBGB. The two bodies should be careful not to launch initiatives during this transition period which may pre-empt or run contrary to policies which the new GBGB might prefer.

Depending upon timing and speed of implementation, it may be necessary to revisit the 2008 budget but this will be for the respective Boards of the GBGB and the BGRF to negotiate should the need arise. Towards the conclusion of the transition, the Committee would need to consider with particular care the legal situation with regard to disciplinary cases still under consideration at the time when the transition from the old to the new legal entities actually takes place.

Staff Work for the Transition

The transitional process will require significant additional staff work. It is unlikely that the NGRC will be able to provide much of this extra labour since it is a `tight ship', often stretched to cover its current work load and with little scope for assuming further burdens. The heavy obligations of current integrity regulation must continue unhindered during the period of transition. Nevertheless, it makes sense that the extra administrative tasks of implementing the transition should be mainly undertaken by senior staff from both organisations working closely together; we would therefore envisage the General Secretary of the BGRB and the NGRC's General Manager forming the core team, working with the help and co-operation of the independent Transition Coordinator. Their accountability would be to the Transition Committee.

Furthermore, a considerable proportion of the legal and documentary changes involved in the transition will specifically relate to the regulatory functions of the old and the new bodies and the expertise of the NGRC is bound to be frequently called upon.

Timetable to the Conclusion of the Transition

In timetable terms, with a schedule aimed to conclude the transition within 6 months, the Transition Committee should particularly ensure that the selection of new appointments is made within 2 months so that the first meeting of the 'shadow GBGB' can be held within 3 months. This 'shadow GBGB', though still lacking legal authority, could at that point effectively approve the agreed transition process and the new staffing arrangements, could consider the options for office location and, if appropriate, propose fresh items for the Transition Committee agenda.

At the point when all the scheduled conditions, objectives and legalities have been secured, the BGRB and the NGRC will cease to have legal status and the new GBGB would become the legal entity registered at Companies House to conduct licensed greyhound racing in Britain. On that day the first formal meeting of the GBGB might take place.

Conclusion

The above schedule of transition is heavy, the timetable which we have proposed is tight and it will require a dedication of financial resource. We are also aware that the greyhound industry has not always had a history of rapid decision-making, nor of quick, efficient and consensual implementation of change. For this reason, we have recommended a strong degree of independent input whilst preserving a realistic level of stakeholder involvement. But this transition timetable is composed on the assumption that institutional modernisation is best executed as rapidly as possible, once the plans have been carefully made.