Birmingham's two greyhound stadiums were under new ownership last night after leisure entrepreneur Luke Johnson won the multi-million pound race to acquire them.
Mr Johnson's investment vehicle Risk Capital Partners has bought the tracks at Perry Barr and Hall Green as part of a £50.3 million deal with Wembley.
He also agreed to buy the tracks at Belle Vue in Manchester, Wimbledon, Oxford and Portsmouth.
Wembley confirmed earlier this month that it was looking to offload the greyhound sites after agreeing a deal to sell its US operations in Rhode Island and Colorado to gaming consortium BLB Investors for £182.5 million.
The former operator of the England football stadium will then become a shell with surplus cash paid back to shareholders.
Mr Johnson, non-executive chairman of Channel 4, entered into an exclusivity agreement with Wembley more than a week ago.
That was after seeing off competition thought to have come from racecourse operator Arena Leisure and at least two other private equity groups.
The tracks will be added to a growing leisure business that includes bingo clubs. Mr Johnson, who is the former chairman of Pizza Express, also owns Signature Restaurants, the chain behind The Ivy and Le Caprice in London, as well as the Belgo chain and Strada.
Wembley chief executive Mark Elliott said he was delighted with the price achieved for the tracks, which was higher than the £40 million to £50 million first indicated by analysts.
He added: "We are delighted with the price obtained for the sale of our UK gaming division following the keen interest shown during the auction of these assets.
"The sale represents an important step towards the board's intention to realise maximum value for our shareholders." The company had looked set to sell the business to an international casino operator, but it is likely changes to new gambling laws made the tracks less attractive to overseas investors.
BLB - featuring property investment firm Starwood Capital and casino operator Kerzner - moved to buy the Wembley business outright last year but the £308 million takeover proposal collapsed.
It will instead buy the US gaming division, which comprises 90 per cent of Wembley's operations.
In 2003, the UK greyhound tracks generated operating profits of £3.6 million on turnover of £25.5 million. Risk Capital Partners moved into the bingo sector when it acquired Mayfair Bingo, the operator of six clubs under the Riva brand.
A spokesman for Risk Capital Partners said it was too early to say what investment plans the group may have for the tracks - the Greyhound Racing Association.
He said: "GRA is a profitable and growing business and we will continue to run it to the best of our ability and to run it profitably." Mr Johnson said: "We are very pleased to have acquired the GRA, which fits in with our strategy of building a portfolio of consumer and leisure related businesses.
" We faced strongtron g competition to acquire this business but it was our ability to move quickly and decisively that gave us the edge."
Risk Capital Partners was advised by Birmingham law firm Pinsent Masons.
The Pinsent Masons team was led by corporate partners, Gareth Edwards and Tom Leman, and comprised: Sean Page and Mary Guinness (corporate), Martin Bishop (banking), Stephen Brown and Charlotte Underwood ( property), Raj Sharma (pensions), Helen Farr (employment), Shaun Tame (construction) and John Christian and Janet Hoskin (tax).