THE great and the good of Oxfordshire gathered at the Kassam Stadium for a gala dinner to relaunch Oxford United’s community trust.

Hundreds of guests were joined at the glitzy event on Thursday by England manager Roy Hodgson.

The event, which raised £75,000, marked the birth of a new community department at the club to implement programmes aimed at helping people across the county.

A silent auction ran during the evening to raise funds and, in the main auction, lots included tickets for today’s Rugby World Cup final, which sold for £4,000, and Maradona, Pele and Lionel Messi football shirts, which sold for £6,000 each.

Mr Hodgson, who led England to next summer’s European Championship finals with 10 straight wins, said he fully supported the trust’s work.

Speaking at the event he said: “Community work is of vital importance and football can do so much for good.

“I really hope this evening will benefit Oxford United’s work in the community.”

A new board of trustees has been appointed and the trust will soon move into the Oxford Academy in Littlemore – the closest school to the Kassam Stadium.

There are plans to set up breakfast clubs and help the school apply for funding to improve sports facilities.

School principal Niall McWilliams is one of the trustees.

U’s chairman Darryl Eales stressed the importance of education, adding: “Football is in a wonderful position to make a difference to communities and I want Oxford United to be one of the leaders in that respect.

“One of the things I said when we took over the club was that success off the pitch is as important as on the pitch.

“Education is the silver bullet. It can change the destiny of families in one generation.

“I am absolutely dedicated to being involved in the Oxford Academy.

“Tonight is about thinking about others, making a difference and also having good fun.”

Mr Eales has already given motivational talks to staff at the Oxford Academy.

Several U’s players were at the event, which was hosted by Sky presenter David Jones, a non-executive director at the club.

Head coach Michael Appleton said: “Nights like tonight are very important for everybody here.

“I think this is an indication of where the football club is going.”

Other guests at the gala dinner included former U’s chairman Firoz Kassam and council leaders Ian Hudspeth and Bob Price.