RACING could return to Westhoughton Greyhound Stadium as soon as next month after the financially-stricken venue was given a new lease of life.
St Helens greyhound racing enthusiast Kevin Brown, 53, took over the running of the Wigan Road track after previous owner Jason Seddon, from Leigh, was forced to close the venue, prompting fears racing was gone from Westhoughton for good.
Kevin, who has been involved in greyhound racing for more than 20 years, says his main priority is to get the stadium financially viable to ensure it remains open as an unregulated, or flapping, track.
Greyhound racing is split into two factions, with licenced tracks running under the control of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and unregulated tracks operating outside national control.
The flapping fraternity see themselves as greyhound racing’s grass-roots, and Kevin says it is vital that Westhoughton does not come under licenced control as he fears ordinary people will be priced out of the sport.
Kevin, 53, said: “It will be open as a flapping track as long as I can keep it open. It will be a local venue for people to come and race their dogs.
“Flapping is a working-class sport for ordinary people. An owner can try their own dog and doesn’t have to have it in kennels, which costs a lot of money. You can get involved in racing for about £10-12 a week.”
Kevin is a familiar face at the Westhoughton track, having previously run a food and accessories stall there, and says his experiences has given him an insight into what needs to be done to make the venue a success.
He said: “I know all the regulars there, and I know how many people have stopped going over the last few years.
“The track has a wide appeal, people come from Scotland, Wales, and from over at Ellesmere Port and the local communities.
“I’m going to be sorting the ticket prices out, as they’ve been too expensive. I’m going to reduce it to £4 for pensioners and £1 for children. It’s vital we get young people interested, they’re the dog enthusiasts and trainers of the future.”