FIROZ KASSAM was last night unable to promise Oxford United fans he would have the Priory pub back open in time for this season.

The former Oxford United owner closed the pub next to United’s ground last month because of mounting unpaid rent from longtime landlord Tim Rackley.

Last weekend police were called to the pub after almost every window was smashed and U’s fans have spoken about their fears for the future of the matchday venue.

Mr Kassam’s company Firoka owns the site and the businessman told the Oxford Mail: “I think it will function as a pub again in future.

“There is no reason why not, and we will do what is necessary.

“As a result of the investment I have made, I am fully aware of the historic nature of the building and would like to preserve the building for the future.”

When asked when there would be an announcement on the future of the site Mr Kassam said: “In my own time.”

Mr Rackley had run the pub since 2004 and claimed his rent was £1,000-a-week.

He said that he had not been able to cover the rent, with takings down to about £50 on non-match days and had built up debts to Firoka over several years Mr Rackley said he was living in the building and was ordered to move out on May 31. His staff, also living in the pub, were ordered to leave on June 19 and it then closed.

Mark Sennett, chairman of supporters group OxVox, said: “The pub has been a focal point for fans for years and if it does reopen then fans will use it again.

“We are in talks with the club about redecorating the Quadrangle bar in the stadium and rebranding it as the 12th Man Bar.”

Archaeologists are concerned The Priory could be destroyed by vandals if efforts are not made to preserve it.

David Griffiths, project director of East Oxford community project Archeox, said the pub, otherwise known as the Minchery Farm House, is one of the lesser-known historic treasures of Oxford, was built in the 1400s, and is Grade II* listed.

Mr Griffiths, 47, an archaeology lecturer at Oxford University, said: “It is at least as historic and important as most of the university and college buildings in Oxford, but is less well-known because of its location away from the city centre.


  • The Priory is over 600 years old — it was built in the mid-1400s — as a rebuild of part of Littlemore Priory, a nunnery founded in 1110.
  • An eccesiastical inspection in the early 15th century found that the nuns' accommodation was in a bad state and recommended it was rebuilt.
  • The pub originally housed the chapter house and dormitory of the nunnery.
  • It was converted into a farmhouse in 1600, about 70 years after the nunnery was closed by Cardinal Wolsey, with the excuse that the nuns had been criticised for ‘lewd and immoral behaviour.’
  • The building survives to its full height with original stone window surrounds and doorway. The roof structure is wooden and very vulnerable, as also is its fine 17th century staircase.