The battle to save greyhound racing in Wimbledon is being stepped up as campaigners fear that London’s last bastion of the sport is about to come to an end.
Following Walthamstow Stadium’s demise in 2008, Wimbledon’s Greyhound track is the only place where the sport can be watched in the capital.
Dog racing has been held on the site since 1928 but it is now feared that Merton council would prefer to redevelop the Greyhound track so that AFC Wimbledon could use the ground.
The original Wimbledon club, that was relocated to Milton Keynes and renamed MK Dons, used to play at the nearby Plough Lane ground, which was demolished in 2002.
A pressure group called We Want Wimbledon (WWW) has written to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to complain about Merton council’s “bias against a multi-million pound plan for a new greyhound stadium.”
A spokesman for WWW, Floyd Amphlett, said: “We believe Merton are compromised following discussions with
AFC Wimbledon to try to replace the greyhound stadium with a new football ground, even though AFC have no moral right to the site and appear to lack the finance to see it through.”
AFC Wimbledon have ambitious plans to build a £16million stadium on the site, which would initially have a capacity of 11,000 but which could eventually rise to 20,000.
However, Irish business magnate, Paschal Taggart, is prepared to invest £60million to transform the greyhound stadium into “the Royal Ascot” of dog racing.
According to betfair.com, the football club have said funds for the new stadium would be raised through a combination of naming rights for the new stadium, a Community Share issue and funds from enabling development.
However, chief executive Erik Samuelson admitted it could be a long process, saying of the plans: “There is a long way to go before our plans become a reality.”