Question mark over Belle Vue after stadium sale

Belle Vue Stadium

THE long-term future of dog racing at Belle Vue in Manchester could be in doubt after the site was acquired by a property developer for £2.6m.

Bolton-based SCI Investments, owned by Susan and Stephen Chicken, has bought the stadium from the GRA Acquisition group which also owns two dog tracks in Birmingham and one in Wimbledon.

The heavily indebted GRA, controlled by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital, has been behind housing plans for Wimbledon – London’s last dog track – and proposals for 220 homes at one of GRA’s former tracks in Oxford were refused in January.

The 12-acre site in Manchester has capacity for 4,000 spectators. In addition to greyhound racing it hosts stock car and speedway competitions, although speedway is due to move to a purpose-built venue next door this year.

Last year GRA Aquisition agreed to lease Belle Vue and its three other sites to a management team trading as GRA Ltd. Acquisition held on to the freehold but issued long leases on the tracks which should mean dog racing in Manchester will continue into the next decade. No one at GRA Ltd returned calls.

SCP Investments (SCPI) was advised by Knight Frank where no one could be reached for comment. In a statement David Nuttall, a senior surveyor in the investment team, said: “Belle Vue’s excellent transport links and proximity to the city centre made it an attractive proposition for SCPI.”

Risk Capital bought the Greyhound Racing Association’s tracks in 2005 for £50m, along with silent partner Galliard Homes, a London property developer. The deal was financed by the Irish Nationwide Building Society which collapsed during the recession leaving the loan with Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency.