FIROZ Kassam has revealed talks are under way to sell the Kassam Stadium and make it a community-owned facility.

The landlord of Oxford United's ground stressed negotiations are in very early stages, but confirmed he wants to see the stadium 'pass into community ownership for the future security of the football club and the benefit of the local community'.

Mr Kassam, who will not sell the stadium to any individuals, has been in talks with OxVox, the club's supporters' trust, who say discussions have been 'highly-constructive' and 'positive'.

It is understood Oxford United and owner Darryl Eales were not involved in any of the talks.

In a statement released by OxVox, Mr Kassam says: "I am happy to confirm the principle, after discussions with OxVox, that the target for the stadium is that it should pass into community ownership for the future security of the football club and the benefit of the local community.

"I look forward to working with OxVox further in the coming months to make progress towards that aim."

Speaking exclusively to the Oxford Mail, Mr Kassam added: "The intentions are there, but there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. We must be very clear on that.

"Whatever I do, I want to secure the ground to the football club and not any individuals – that has always been my priority.

"I have always said I would be willing to sell, it just has to be done in the right way so it is not abused by anybody further down the line.

"I do not want to jeopardise the future of the club in any way.

"This will not happen overnight. It could be many months, or even years, but the intention is there."

OxVox chairman Jem Faulkner, added: "Meetings and regular communication has been going on for some time with various key stakeholders and that, of course, has included Firoz Kassam and his board.

"The highly-constructive nature of our talks with Firoz Kassam have been very encouraging.

"It has become clear that he shares our vision to see if a community-owned solution for the stadium can be achieved for the benefit of OUFC, its fans and the wider community.

"Everything is still at a very early stage and there is much detail to work through, but the willingness of all parties to talk openly and discuss the possibilities gives us great cause for optimism."

Oxford United moved to the Kassam Stadium in 2001, ending a 76-year stay at the Manor Ground, in Headington.

Mr Kassam, who was chairman at the time of the move and held the position for seven years, stepped down after selling the club in 2006 when Nick Merry took charge.

However, Mr Kassam's company, Firoka, retained ownership of the stadium and Oxford United have been paying rent – a figure in the region of £500,000 a year – ever since.

Many individuals, groups and consortiums have expressed interest in trying to buy the stadium, but nobody has been able – or prepared – to put together a package that would convince Mr Kassam to sell. The stadium was listed as a community asset in 2013 – believed to the first to be designated under the Localism Act 2011.

It means that if Mr Kassam wants to sell the stadium, he will have to inform supporters and give them six months so they can mount their own bid.

However, that status is not connected with the talks about making the ground community-owned.