THE blazing row between Oxford United and the city council over a new sports ground reached a peak as U's chairman Darryl Eales hit back at comments calling the club 'ill-judged and ill-informed'.

Mr Eales told the Oxford Mail he was 'irritated' by the reasons given to the club after their bid to design and run the new facility complex off Horspath Road was rejected.

He also said there had been 'no serious consultation' with the club's board, despite claims from the city council meetings took place.

In an exclusive interview with the Mail, Mr Eales said the city council rejected United's bid to run the sports park because they had been operating at a loss and had never run a facility before.

He added he agreed with the comments completely, but questioned why the council invited the U's to submit a bid – which cost them £30,000 – and reject it based on facts already known to the public.

The chairman's comments come after council leader Bob Price said the club's remarks in relation to their disappointment were 'ill-judged and ill-informed'.

Mr Eales said: "What is the point of inviting someone to tender and then dismissing them? The best people to run that site is us.

"That's why I'm irritated by it. We don't need to operate the facility but everyone thought it was a good idea.

"Given our dominance of that facility you would have thought why would someone be better at running that facility than us?

"The comments made last week were not ill-informed and ill-judged, they were factually accurate.

"They may not be comments that Bob Price likes because they are true."

Mr Eales said the board had not been given a 'detailed' response to why their bid was rejected and Fusion Lifestyle accepted.

Plans have been submitted to build the £4.9m sports complex with Fusion Lifestyle to re-provide the current pitches in Roman Way after BMW's lease ran out last month.

The new site off Horspath Road is to be transformed into a number of football and cricket pitches, a pavilion with changing facilities and a 150-space car park.

It is also proposed that a new training ground for United would be included in the 39-acre piece of land, which was made available thanks to a deal between BMW and the city council in September 2015.

Mr Price said the club had been provided with a detailed response to the plans and added their proposal 'did not provide best value for money for the tax payer'.

He added: "We invited competitive tenders, as required by the law, to get the best value for the public purse.

"As ever, our aim is to do what is in the best interests of all Oxford residents."

But Mr Eales claimed there was 'no possibility' that the decision was taken in the best economic interests of the community, because 'no numbers' had been discussed.

He added: "Unless they are assuming we were paying nothing, which I am, then I’m happy.

"But there was no financial analysis because nobody can tell me, unless the council know the answer.

"If the answer is we’re going to use the site for nothing then I’m delighted, but I cannot see how Bob can make that comment.

"I’d love him to present to me the economic argument for the other people running it versus us, because I don’t know what it is.

"If Bob has some spreadsheet that shows how it was arrived at then I’m happy.

"All I want is transparency and let’s tell the truth."

A council spokesman said: "The football club was not invited to the second stage of the tender process, and as such did not have to go through the detailed and costly exercise of submitting a fully worked up bid.

"Details about the tenders are commercially sensitive at this stage."