UPDATE: Eales - 'It was the right thing to do for the club'

DARRYL Eales hopes his decision to end Juan Sartori's proposed takeover of Oxford United will finally end the speculation over the club's ownership.

The Oxford Mail exclusively revealed earlier today that the U's chairman had rejected an approach from the Uruguayan businessman.

Mr Sartori made a firm offer to the United chief to buy the Sky Bet League One club last month and also met stadium landlord Firoz Kassam about trying to negotiate a deal to obtain the ground.

However, Mr Eales this morning made it clear to the Sartori camp he was not prepared to relinquish control and was rejecting the approach.

United's chairman told the Oxford Mail: “I have always maintained the football club is not for sale,” he said.

“But I cannot stop people from enquiring about it.

“However, for a variety of reasons I said to Juan Sartori that I thought we should call it quits.

“Hopefully that stops all the speculation.”

Mr Sartori told the Oxford Mail he was disappointed, but respected Mr Eales's decision.

“I am sad about it, but what can you do?," he said.

“We worked a lot over the last three months, worked with everybody and did due diligence but it was Darryl’s decision to carry on at the club.

“We put forward a very strong project with very credible project."

We revealed Mr Sartori’s interest in United at the end of March.

At the time, he had only communicated with Mr Eales by email, but since then the duo have spoken at length both on the phone and in person at two meetings.

Mr Sartori, the son-in-law of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, thought a deal was close and due diligence of the club took place.

However, Mr Eales, who has publicly stated throughout he was not looking to sell the club, has pulled the plug.

It now seems certain OxVox will step up their bid to make the Kassam Stadium a community-based facility.

The supporters’ trust announced last year, in conjunction with Mr Kassam, plans to transfer ownership of the stadium to a community trust.

But the sensitive nature of talks - the group were in regular dialogue with the ground’s owner and all other stakeholders during the takeover discussions - forced them to adopt a watching brief.

However, it is now understood they will reignite their bid.