THE loss of greyhound racing at Poole Stadium would be a “sad” outcome for the venue, according to a bookmaker who has been involved with the sport for decades.

Jem Racing has been trading at the track for 34 years and managing director Martin Johnstone said the potential closure of the dog racing operation did not come as a big surprise.

No race meets have been held at the site off Wimborne Road since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while events have resumed at other venues in the UK, the situation has remained unchanged at Poole.

This was until Wednesday, when operators Poole Stadium Ltd, which is part of Gaming International, announced a consultation had been launched that could result in staff redundancies and the closure of greyhound racing at the venue.

Mr Johnstone said he had not had any contact from Poole Stadium Ltd for several months.

“From our point of view and spectators, dogs have been at Poole for almost 60 years,” said Mr Johnstone. “It opened in 1961, closed in 1990 and reopened under Stadia UK in 1997. It would be sad to see it go.

“You have all the staff who work there, the tote staff, restaurant staff, general manager, racing office staff and, obviously, the trainers.

“We don’t know whether trainers will find new tracks or whether they will just retire. I have had no contact whatsoever from the track, which is a bit surprising.”

Mr Johnstone said the 1980s and 1990s were the “boom time” for the industry but admitted the pandemic could be the “final straw” for racing the stadium.

“With greyhound racing nationally less and less people were going to watch over the years,” said Mr Johnstone.

“Turnover for bookmakers and for the track has become lower and lower.”

In a statement released late on Wednesday, Clarke Osborne, chairman and CEO of Gaming International, said no “definitive decision” had been made over the future of Poole Stadium Ltd.

He added: “During the coming weeks of consultation, we will continue to examine all options available to us and will continue to work with our remaining attached trainers as they examine their options.

“The initial suspension and current restriction of racing has been hugely damaging for all of greyhound racing and particularly for Poole where we have not been able to provide a viable behind closed doors product.”

As reported, Poole Speedway owner Matt Ford said the club had every intention of racing at Wimborne Road next year.