THE world-famous Walthamstow Stadium has been sold for development.

The directors have agreed the sale of the dog track opened in the 1930s to a development consortium led by Yoo Capital and K W Linfoot plc.

Contracts have been exchanged and completion is expected on or before September 1. Racing will continue until the middle of August.

In a statement, director Charles Chandler said: "Since the abolition of General Betting Duty in 2001, with the consequent loss of the unique advantage of tax-free betting only on-course, greyhound punters have been able to bet tax-free off-course, and with betting offices and exchanges open throughout the evening to accommodate them, attendances and betting turnover on-course have declined dramatically.

"Walthamstow's totalisator turnover alone has fallen by some 35 per cent during the period.

"With all of the principle income streams in sharp decline, and general running costs rising relentlessly, the company's operations have become unsustainable."

Staff and trainers were notified today and a consultation period has begun.

Mr Chandler said: "It is hoped that all will find alternative positions after operations cease.

"From an animal welfare point of view, it is anticipated that most of the greyhounds currently racing at the Stadium will be accommodated at other racecourses.

"If, however, certain owners choose to retire their greyhounds, every effort will be made to support them in finding suitable homes."

Rumours that the stadium would be sold have been rife for several years, but have been stoutly denied by the family.

The stadium in Chingford Road, Chingford, was founded in 1933 by William Chandler and is known across the globe. It is widely regarded as one of Waltham Forest's few attractions for tourists as well as for east Londoners.

Last year a bid to get the front range of the stadium and its historic Tote board listed by English Heritage finally succeeded.