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GREYHOUNDS: BAGS loss adds to closure fears
Trrainers have expr-essed their fears that Oxford Stadium could close following the shock annoucement that the track is to lose its money-spinning Friday BAGS meeting from January 1.
The contract, worth a “substantial six-figure sum”, according to Clive Feltham, managing director of the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA), who operate Oxford, has been switched to Kinsley, near Pontefract.
With Galliard Homes seeking planning permission for housing at the site, it has fuelled speculation over the track’s future.
Gilly Hepden, who has 34 hounds in training at Chipping Norton, said: “Obviously I am gutted because it takes away a whole meeting for us.
“We don’t really know the extent of it at the moment. Will it mean the end of the stadium? I hope not.
“I know the management are doing everything possible to keep the stadium going. We are not leaving. We are sticking with them and whatever happens will happen.
“If the stadium can carry on with one BAGS meeting we will just cope, but obviously I would have to lay staff off.”
Bob Hannan, who trains around 40 dogs at Harwell, said: “It is devastating news because it leaves us in a precarious position with what is going to happen to Oxford in the new year.
“It sort of accelerates things in the direction towards a sale or housing.”
Richard Baker, who trains around 25 hounds at Marston, added: “It is bad news and that’s the long and short of it.
“Is it anything to do with what is going on regarding the planning permission at the track?”
Johnny Mayo, who has been connected with Oxford for 30 years and now trains at Wormingall, near Aylesbury, said: “It is a big blow, but at the moment it is patchy to say what the actual reasons are.”
Feltham said: “Obviously it came as much of a shock to us as to all our trainers and staff.
“We have been talking to BAGS to try and clarify the situation, so we have not taken stock.
“It is very significant for the track, so we are now looking at the business and what we do and as yet we don’t have any strategy.
“For us to continue racing we have got to make quite a lot of changes to the business.”
See John Gaisford’s reaction in his At The Dogs column in Saturday’s Sportsmail.