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Right of fans’ group to bid for Kassam stadium upheld
FANS are breathing a sigh of relief after a bid to stop them ever trying to buy the Kassam Stadium failed.
Oxford City Council has upheld its decision to give fans the first chance to bid for the stadium should it ever come up for sale.
Supporters said the move – the first for an English ground – would stop it being sold “under their feet”.
The council made it an “asset of community value” in January, in terms of the 2011 Localism Act.
It means supporters’ group Oxvox must be informed of any sale or bid on the ground, which is currently owned by Firoz Kassam.
They would then have six weeks to decide whether to lodge a rival offer and another four-and-a-half months to raise the cash. But Mr Kassam would still have the final say on any buyer.
Oxvox chairman Mark Sennett said the result was “very significant” and would make fans “proud”.
Mr Sennett said: “I am delighted. It means that fans won’t wake up to find that the stadium has been sold from under their feet.
“This is something very innovative and has the backing of Oxford United fans, who should be proud of this.”
Fan Phil Fugle, 58, of East Hanney, said: “I think it’s great news and I think Mark has done a fantastic job to bring this about.
“It gives us more solidarity and I am hoping that Kassam will see this is a sign that we want to negotiate with him.”
But Islip Road resident, Bob Scholes, 77, who has watched the side since 1949, said: “It should never have been started in the first place.
“I don’t think it is the right decision. The club should be trying to work with him rather than alienating him.
“It is the height of folly and sheer navieity. “I think Oxvox has gone into this without thinking about what the consquences might be.”
Begbroke’s John Crellin, 54, a fan of 43 years, said: “It is not a good idea to annoy the landlord like this.
“Oxvox seem to be parading up and down saying they are a wonderful saviour act, but all they have done is interfere with a successful chairman (Ian Lenagan) and irritated the landlord.
“They should either raise the money to buy the club or not interfere like this.”
However fan of 25 years Andy Woolmer, disagreed: “I’m happy about it. It’s quite a big step towards realising our long-term aim, which is to own the stadium outright.
“At the moment it doesn’t reallly feel like home because it’s rented from Kassam.”
Kassam’s company Firoka still have the option of taking the appeal to an independent tribunal. He was not available for comment.
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