U’s may move to a new ground

Water Eaton

Water Eaton

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THE leader of Oxfordshire County Council has said he would back a move which could see Oxford United leave the Kassam Stadium and build a new ground at Water Eaton.

And last night, Ian Hudspeth said it would potentially allow the club’s present home in Grenoble Road to be redeveloped for housing.

As revealed in Friday’s Oxford Mail, U’s owner Ian Lenagan is involved in takeover talks with at least two consortiums, and this newspaper understands any successful negotiations are likely to depend on the club owning their home.

But that might be away from the Kassam Stadium.

While an official approach has not been made for the site, which is located next to the Water Eaton Park-and-Ride and proposed new Oxford Parkway railway station, Mr Hudspeth confirmed informal talks between the county council and United have taken place.

But he warned there would be a number of obstacles to overcome with the land, which falls under Cherwell District Council’s authority.

He said: “I had the idea a few months ago that it might be a potential location and did speak to Oxford United about it, but they were informal talks.

“The county council is not the planning authority. However, as an Oxford United supporter, I am obviously keen for the club to own its own facility.

“Water Eaton might do that.

“However, it is on Green Belt land and there would have to be discussions with Cherwell District Council.”

United have paid rent to landlord Firoz Kassam since moving from the Manor Ground in 2001, which is now believed to be around £500,000 a year.

That burden has hindered the club’s progress, with the U’s posting losses of in excess of £1m for each of the last two years.

Mr Hudspeth believes a move to a new location could suit all parties. He said: “From a transport point of view, it [Water Eaton] would be next to the train station, is on bus routes and there would be car parking, so transport-wise it is a very good location.

“We could then look at the Kassam Stadium, and it might mean that could be redeveloped for housing to assist Oxford City Council to provide the need for homes.

“I am aware that the desire of all Oxford United supporters to own their own ground is great.”

Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council, said the area would be ideal for such a development.

He said: “If ever you were looking at a site that’s worth developing, then that would be it. It is obviously a viable site.

“The football club and the rugby club [London Welsh have shared the ground since 2012] are very important parts of the community and they serve a wide section of the community.

“We would be happy to take part in any discussions that ensure they both remain viable. We will look at anything that sounds feasible.”

A consortium led by Mark Ashton appear to be favourite to take over the club should it be up for sale, with a team of Oxfordshire businessmen, fronted by Charlie Methven, also interested.

Mr Lenagan and Mr Kassam were yesterday both unavailable for comment.

Cherwell district councillor Michael Gibbard, the cabinet member for planning and the councillor for Water Eaton, said: “This is not something we are aware of and nothing has been put to us yet.

“My immediate thought is that it would be a major visual development in the Green Belt and not one to be encouraged but you could look at whether it is a special case.”

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Comments (24)

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9:51am Thu 3 Jul 14

BigAlBiker says...

If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year.

Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well.
If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year. Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well. BigAlBiker
  • Score: 18

10:01am Thu 3 Jul 14

Manor Born says...

All pie in the sky. Would be great to get away from that soulless, 3-sided hellhole, but it took 20+ years to get there. If the club can achieve this, it would be the best thing to happen to it in nigh on 20 years. A completely fresh start.

With regards to the land being Green Belt, there are ways and means around that - Brighton & Saracens both built new grounds on Green Belt. You can actually build a stadium and landscape it so that it has minimal impact on the environmental surroundings.

Not going to get my hopes up on this, we need to find out directly from the club and the potential new owners (all parties) what their plans are and how they wish to implement them. And if a new stadium is part of their plans, how long will it take to implement and build? What involvement will London Welsh have (if any - would it be joint ownership)?
All pie in the sky. Would be great to get away from that soulless, 3-sided hellhole, but it took 20+ years to get there. If the club can achieve this, it would be the best thing to happen to it in nigh on 20 years. A completely fresh start. With regards to the land being Green Belt, there are ways and means around that - Brighton & Saracens both built new grounds on Green Belt. You can actually build a stadium and landscape it so that it has minimal impact on the environmental surroundings. Not going to get my hopes up on this, we need to find out directly from the club and the potential new owners (all parties) what their plans are and how they wish to implement them. And if a new stadium is part of their plans, how long will it take to implement and build? What involvement will London Welsh have (if any - would it be joint ownership)? Manor Born
  • Score: 8

10:08am Thu 3 Jul 14

EMBOX2 says...

Won't happen. No money to pay for it, either from OUFC or the local authorties. Planning would be a nightmare, and as logical as Water Eaton is with the A34, train & bus links.

It might be the straw that breaks Kassam's back, though, and he finally lets the club buy the Kassam stadium for a sensible price.....
Won't happen. No money to pay for it, either from OUFC or the local authorties. Planning would be a nightmare, and as logical as Water Eaton is with the A34, train & bus links. It might be the straw that breaks Kassam's back, though, and he finally lets the club buy the Kassam stadium for a sensible price..... EMBOX2
  • Score: 10

10:23am Thu 3 Jul 14

norton manor says...

this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds??
this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds?? norton manor
  • Score: 4

10:35am Thu 3 Jul 14

andy1975 says...

agree with above, very unlikely, but would be just what the club needs. Its so ironic that the new stadium the club desperately needed turned out to be such a millstone.
agree with above, very unlikely, but would be just what the club needs. Its so ironic that the new stadium the club desperately needed turned out to be such a millstone. andy1975
  • Score: 0

10:45am Thu 3 Jul 14

87oufc says...

I vote for The New Manor as a name :)
I vote for The New Manor as a name :) 87oufc
  • Score: 7

11:01am Thu 3 Jul 14

Soggybotham says...

So Kassam's cunning plan will finally come to fruition - get rid of that irritating football team and develop the land that he bought on the cheap from us via the unimpeachable council. Just a few backhanders to go (and we're not talking Wimbledon here) and he's home and free to live in clover.
So Kassam's cunning plan will finally come to fruition - get rid of that irritating football team and develop the land that he bought on the cheap from us via the unimpeachable council. Just a few backhanders to go (and we're not talking Wimbledon here) and he's home and free to live in clover. Soggybotham
  • Score: 20

11:29am Thu 3 Jul 14

andy1975 says...

87oufc wrote:
I vote for The New Manor as a name :)
No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor!
[quote][p][bold]87oufc[/bold] wrote: I vote for The New Manor as a name :)[/p][/quote]No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor! andy1975
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Open your eyes says...

EMBOX2 wrote:
Won't happen. No money to pay for it, either from OUFC or the local authorties. Planning would be a nightmare, and as logical as Water Eaton is with the A34, train & bus links.

It might be the straw that breaks Kassam's back, though, and he finally lets the club buy the Kassam stadium for a sensible price.....
You seen the business plan then?
[quote][p][bold]EMBOX2[/bold] wrote: Won't happen. No money to pay for it, either from OUFC or the local authorties. Planning would be a nightmare, and as logical as Water Eaton is with the A34, train & bus links. It might be the straw that breaks Kassam's back, though, and he finally lets the club buy the Kassam stadium for a sensible price.....[/p][/quote]You seen the business plan then? Open your eyes
  • Score: 0

1:19pm Thu 3 Jul 14

The Black Prince was off-side says...

The former Witney town FC ground with substantial land is available and the owners are willing to sell. There is a ready made road infrastructure in the pipeline with a new A40 junction 250 yards away and the local authority is the most positive in the county. IL has been made aware of this in the past and never opened discussions.
The former Witney town FC ground with substantial land is available and the owners are willing to sell. There is a ready made road infrastructure in the pipeline with a new A40 junction 250 yards away and the local authority is the most positive in the county. IL has been made aware of this in the past and never opened discussions. The Black Prince was off-side
  • Score: 0

1:39pm Thu 3 Jul 14

howardl says...

Probably wont be just a ground for OUFC,
Maybe other sporting facilities will be involved, knock down that eyesore of an ice rink for starters and build a proper one and heat a new swimming pool next door.
Oxford needs a proper sporting leisure complex
Probably wont be just a ground for OUFC, Maybe other sporting facilities will be involved, knock down that eyesore of an ice rink for starters and build a proper one and heat a new swimming pool next door. Oxford needs a proper sporting leisure complex howardl
  • Score: 7

1:48pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Moobs says...

andy1975 wrote:
87oufc wrote: I vote for The New Manor as a name :)
No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor!
The New Kassam?
[quote][p][bold]andy1975[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]87oufc[/bold] wrote: I vote for The New Manor as a name :)[/p][/quote]No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor![/p][/quote]The New Kassam? Moobs
  • Score: -2

2:11pm Thu 3 Jul 14

OxfordRob says...

It is surely better to be forward thinking and plan for a long term viable solution to the money hemorrhaging Kassam stadium? Granted Water Eaton is going to need some planning but is a very viable proposal. It keeps it just about in Oxford and is far more accessible from all sides and most importantly gives the club a fighting chance at survival and dare I mention promotion?

At least a new stadium would get four sides to it ;)
It is surely better to be forward thinking and plan for a long term viable solution to the money hemorrhaging Kassam stadium? Granted Water Eaton is going to need some planning but is a very viable proposal. It keeps it just about in Oxford and is far more accessible from all sides and most importantly gives the club a fighting chance at survival and dare I mention promotion? At least a new stadium would get four sides to it ;) OxfordRob
  • Score: 5

2:47pm Thu 3 Jul 14

train passenger says...

Ridiculous that Cherwell council are in charge of this location. Oxford city limits ought to be extended by a mile in every direction for this town and football club to be going anywhere in future.
Ridiculous that Cherwell council are in charge of this location. Oxford city limits ought to be extended by a mile in every direction for this town and football club to be going anywhere in future. train passenger
  • Score: 2

3:27pm Thu 3 Jul 14

The New Private Eye says...

norton manor wrote:
this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds??
OUFC are contracted too play there till 2026 so that equates at todays rent of a payment of £6 million to Kassam to buy out their contract. There is also the chance that UTD goes bust in that time, and I am sure that Kassam has thought about that and the penny in the £ he would get. So there are only two possible outcomes outside of us going bust, and that is that Kassam will sell, but not for less than £12 million, or we build the new ground, and Kassam gets planning permission for enough new homes to more than cover the loss of income from the stadium under the poviso that he lets OUFC break the contract for free. The latter would suit both councils, Kassam and OUFC, as the Councils would benefit from the income generated by new homes and businesses, Kassam makes a healthy profit, and UTD can start generating serious income to build a team for The Championship. But with build costs of roughly £40 and 90-100 million for 20, and 30,000 seater stadiums respectively it may be better for us to pay Kassam what he wants for the current stadium and build a fourth state of the art main end stand for roughly £5 million. Who knows what will happen until we know who the new owners will be, and sadly it looks like there are no Russians or Arabs interested at the moment.
[quote][p][bold]norton manor[/bold] wrote: this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds??[/p][/quote]OUFC are contracted too play there till 2026 so that equates at todays rent of a payment of £6 million to Kassam to buy out their contract. There is also the chance that UTD goes bust in that time, and I am sure that Kassam has thought about that and the penny in the £ he would get. So there are only two possible outcomes outside of us going bust, and that is that Kassam will sell, but not for less than £12 million, or we build the new ground, and Kassam gets planning permission for enough new homes to more than cover the loss of income from the stadium under the poviso that he lets OUFC break the contract for free. The latter would suit both councils, Kassam and OUFC, as the Councils would benefit from the income generated by new homes and businesses, Kassam makes a healthy profit, and UTD can start generating serious income to build a team for The Championship. But with build costs of roughly £40 and 90-100 million for 20, and 30,000 seater stadiums respectively it may be better for us to pay Kassam what he wants for the current stadium and build a fourth state of the art main end stand for roughly £5 million. Who knows what will happen until we know who the new owners will be, and sadly it looks like there are no Russians or Arabs interested at the moment. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 3

3:57pm Thu 3 Jul 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
norton manor wrote:
this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds??
OUFC are contracted too play there till 2026 so that equates at todays rent of a payment of £6 million to Kassam to buy out their contract. There is also the chance that UTD goes bust in that time, and I am sure that Kassam has thought about that and the penny in the £ he would get. So there are only two possible outcomes outside of us going bust, and that is that Kassam will sell, but not for less than £12 million, or we build the new ground, and Kassam gets planning permission for enough new homes to more than cover the loss of income from the stadium under the poviso that he lets OUFC break the contract for free. The latter would suit both councils, Kassam and OUFC, as the Councils would benefit from the income generated by new homes and businesses, Kassam makes a healthy profit, and UTD can start generating serious income to build a team for The Championship. But with build costs of roughly £40 and 90-100 million for 20, and 30,000 seater stadiums respectively it may be better for us to pay Kassam what he wants for the current stadium and build a fourth state of the art main end stand for roughly £5 million. Who knows what will happen until we know who the new owners will be, and sadly it looks like there are no Russians or Arabs interested at the moment.
Im sorry but I don't know what is most pie in the sky there - Oxford filling a 30000 stadia or getting in the championship
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]norton manor[/bold] wrote: this area was one that was suggested for the stadium many years ago. planners residents and councils had a hissing fit and it was dropped. no-one wanted, from the latter, a stadium there. NORTH Oxford wasn't the place for such a building. Football has to be played at the present stadium for 25years as per planning consent, what has changed for the County/City council to change their minds??[/p][/quote]OUFC are contracted too play there till 2026 so that equates at todays rent of a payment of £6 million to Kassam to buy out their contract. There is also the chance that UTD goes bust in that time, and I am sure that Kassam has thought about that and the penny in the £ he would get. So there are only two possible outcomes outside of us going bust, and that is that Kassam will sell, but not for less than £12 million, or we build the new ground, and Kassam gets planning permission for enough new homes to more than cover the loss of income from the stadium under the poviso that he lets OUFC break the contract for free. The latter would suit both councils, Kassam and OUFC, as the Councils would benefit from the income generated by new homes and businesses, Kassam makes a healthy profit, and UTD can start generating serious income to build a team for The Championship. But with build costs of roughly £40 and 90-100 million for 20, and 30,000 seater stadiums respectively it may be better for us to pay Kassam what he wants for the current stadium and build a fourth state of the art main end stand for roughly £5 million. Who knows what will happen until we know who the new owners will be, and sadly it looks like there are no Russians or Arabs interested at the moment.[/p][/quote]Im sorry but I don't know what is most pie in the sky there - Oxford filling a 30000 stadia or getting in the championship yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: 1

3:57pm Thu 3 Jul 14

remberingthe80s says...

BigAlBiker wrote:
If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year.

Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well.
So different from what you been saying
You change like the wind
[quote][p][bold]BigAlBiker[/bold] wrote: If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year. Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well.[/p][/quote]So different from what you been saying You change like the wind remberingthe80s
  • Score: 0

4:01pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Quentin Walker says...

"...Size-wise, United is a club that should not be sitting in League Two. But sustaining a League One or Championship place relies heavily on a business that owns its own home..."

The average attendance at U's matches last season was a little under 6,000.
There are only three teams in League One who did worse than that. Whilst I admire the loyalty of the writer of the leader (see story, above) , I think we have to look in the present and not the (glorious) past...
"...Size-wise, United is a club that should not be sitting in League Two. But sustaining a League One or Championship place relies heavily on a business that owns its own home..." The average attendance at U's matches last season was a little under 6,000. There are only three teams in League One who did worse than that. Whilst I admire the loyalty of the writer of the leader (see story, above) , I think we have to look in the present and not the (glorious) past... Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

4:05pm Thu 3 Jul 14

remberingthe80s says...

Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club
Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club remberingthe80s
  • Score: 0

5:10pm Thu 3 Jul 14

87oufc says...

andy1975 wrote:
87oufc wrote:
I vote for The New Manor as a name :)
No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor!
Fair enough.
I do like the sound of Water Eaton, in general. So maybe that can be taken into account.
[quote][p][bold]andy1975[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]87oufc[/bold] wrote: I vote for The New Manor as a name :)[/p][/quote]No anything but that please! call it something releveant to new site. Unless its rebuilt at the old manor, it should not be the new manor![/p][/quote]Fair enough. I do like the sound of Water Eaton, in general. So maybe that can be taken into account. 87oufc
  • Score: 0

5:21pm Thu 3 Jul 14

SteveinSC says...

remberingthe80s wrote:
Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club
Access and parking would be a nightmare and when has the uni ever done Oufc any favours..
[quote][p][bold]remberingthe80s[/bold] wrote: Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club[/p][/quote]Access and parking would be a nightmare and when has the uni ever done Oufc any favours.. SteveinSC
  • Score: 0

6:04pm Thu 3 Jul 14

BigAlBiker says...

remberingthe80s wrote:
BigAlBiker wrote:
If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year.

Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well.
So different from what you been saying
You change like the wind
You seem to be mistaken as to what I have said in the past, but I forgive you, thousands would not.

I don't like Kassam as a person but I guess we must be thankful for at least having a club, I don't like the way he and his company are holding us to ransom but then again he is a businessman not a football supporter. So if the proposed new purchasers along with the council could do something then let's give it some support.
[quote][p][bold]remberingthe80s[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BigAlBiker[/bold] wrote: If the council wanted to do this they could, then charge the club a reasonable rent which would give them a steady income, not like rip off Kassam and his half a million a year. Perhaps a peppercorn rent of say £20k a year and the council gets to use it for other activities as well.[/p][/quote]So different from what you been saying You change like the wind[/p][/quote]You seem to be mistaken as to what I have said in the past, but I forgive you, thousands would not. I don't like Kassam as a person but I guess we must be thankful for at least having a club, I don't like the way he and his company are holding us to ransom but then again he is a businessman not a football supporter. So if the proposed new purchasers along with the council could do something then let's give it some support. BigAlBiker
  • Score: -2

8:47pm Thu 3 Jul 14

LeagueOneOx says...

SteveinSC wrote:
remberingthe80s wrote:
Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club
Access and parking would be a nightmare and when has the uni ever done Oufc any favours..
Where did you dream that one up from?

Access would be a dream - new road/bridge at the a34, new ParkWay Station. Park & Ride hub and near a44, a34 and a40.
[quote][p][bold]SteveinSC[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]remberingthe80s[/bold] wrote: Just a thought what about iffley road build with the uni on the running track and rugby area sport in the uni is important and has a lot of uni to date courses ect that would benefit the club[/p][/quote]Access and parking would be a nightmare and when has the uni ever done Oufc any favours..[/p][/quote]Where did you dream that one up from? Access would be a dream - new road/bridge at the a34, new ParkWay Station. Park & Ride hub and near a44, a34 and a40. LeagueOneOx
  • Score: 0

11:09pm Sun 6 Jul 14

shouldn't say anything says...

this is fcn stupid

don't know oxford but checked map what i got it's like Kassam four miles from city centre - 8-10 £ by taxi arghhhhhhhhh

keeps the fiscally poor out as tho moneytary reward was an indictaor of behaviour & passion

why can't it be like Rotherham close to train station i have a vested interest ( i'm a red headed millionaire)

also as part of the local and proud of being part of the local community should be in city centre so every body has easy access

what's wrong with bein in proximation to the ice stadium or botley rd etc

even if fiscal rip off issues dictate it's becoming a high income attendance sport entertainment

a complete contrast from the multitudes who sardine attended in the sixties and seventies

i will personally kick their heads in with a haddock the architects (i like a nice victorian edwardian quoin) and councillors if they don't design a nice stadiumn with acoustic roofs and pitch like Loftus rd close to the action - where (for the high up critics) you see the players running at 300mph



they will fck this up
this is fcn stupid don't know oxford but checked map what i got it's like Kassam four miles from city centre - 8-10 £ by taxi arghhhhhhhhh keeps the fiscally poor out as tho moneytary reward was an indictaor of behaviour & passion why can't it be like Rotherham close to train station i have a vested interest ( i'm a red headed millionaire) also as part of the local and proud of being part of the local community should be in city centre so every body has easy access what's wrong with bein in proximation to the ice stadium or botley rd etc even if fiscal rip off issues dictate it's becoming a high income attendance sport entertainment a complete contrast from the multitudes who sardine attended in the sixties and seventies i will personally kick their heads in with a haddock the architects (i like a nice victorian edwardian quoin) and councillors if they don't design a nice stadiumn with acoustic roofs and pitch like Loftus rd close to the action - where (for the high up critics) you see the players running at 300mph they will fck this up shouldn't say anything
  • Score: 0

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