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Kassam to fight stadium ruling
The landmark ruling which listed the Kassam Stadium as an asset of community value has been challenged by owners Firoka.
Oxford City Council, whose decision in May under the Localism Act (2011) was the first of its kind, will hold an internal review on Thursday, August 29.
Oxford United’s supporters’ trust, OxVox, originally applied for the status and will put their case across at the appeal.
Making the stadium an asset of community value means OxVox must be informed in the event Firoka – owned by Firoz Kassam – put it up for sale or receive a bid.
The fans would then have six weeks to state whether they intend to lodge a competing offer and a further four and a half months to raise the money, although the owners would still have the freedom to select their favoured bidder.
When contacted by the Oxford Mail, Kassam said he had no comment to make.
Mark Sennett, OxVox’s chairman, expected the move, but was optimistic the council would uphold the decision.
He said: “Obviously it’s disappointing the appeal has gone in because we don’t see this as a danger or a hindrance to the stadium company.
“It just gives Oxford United supporters, should Firoka want to sell, the chance to make a bid.
“We can’t see why that would be detrimental to the stadium company. We look forward to putting our views across to the city council next week.”
The ruling was backed at the time by Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, and he is convinced the stadium’s status should remain.
He said: “This is such an important facility with so much local support.
“It’s a crystal clear, overwhelming case for community status and I’m very surprised the owners have challenged it.”
Oxford City Council explained what would happen if the review stayed with the initial ruling.
A spokesperson said: “If the original decision to list the stadium as an asset of community value is upheld, the owners then have the right to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.”
If Firoka succeeded in overturning the ruling, OxVox would have the option of a judicial review.
Oxford United declined to comment.