Oxford United chairman Darryl Eales has welcomed talks to sell the Kassam Stadium as a community-owned facility and revealed he has tried to buy it on three separate occasions. 

Firoz Kassam exclusively revealed to the Oxford Mail yesterday that he had begun talks with OxVox, the club's supporters' trust, about selling the stadium into community ownership.

Club owner Darryl Eales is not believed to have been involved in the discussions but said the idea would fit in to his vision for the club and it was 'hugely positive news'.

He said: "The announcement that Firoz Kassam will sell the ground to a Community Trust is hugely positive news.

"I have been consistent in stating that the club needs the ability to operate and develop the stadium if it is to realise its full potential maximise and the benefit, whatever the ownership structure, needs to be for the club and community.

"If the announcement is sincere, then it provides the long awaited opportunity to enable us to enhance and develop the stadium and its facilities so as to build a sustainable future and make it a loved and cared for home of the club and, of course, complete the 4th stand." 

He added: "I have also said on numerous occasions that football clubs should not be property plays and that stadia should be developed as community hubs."

Mr Kassam, the stadium's landlord stressed the negotiations were at a very early stage but confirmed he wanted to see the stadium 'passed into community ownership for the future security of the football club and the benefit of the local community.'

Despite hoping OxVox and Mr Kassam would reach a deal 'as soon as possible' Mr Eales revealed that he himself has made offers to purchase the stadium on three separate occasions.

He said his first two bids were rejected and he was awaiting a response to his most recent offer. 

He said: "Ordinarily, I would prefer to keep any conversations about the stadium confidential but, given today's announcement, I can add that I have made funded offers to purchase the stadium on 3 occasions, in writing, which I am sure Firoz will confirm.

"Two of these were rejected and the most recent is still on the table but, as yet, I have received no response."

"My plea is now to make swift progress.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if the by the end of the season, sooner if possible, that the stadium ownership is resolved for the long term and in the best interests of Oxford United and the community."