A WEALTHY businessman says it will be ‘well worth the wait’ for Oxford United if a deal can be struck to buy the Kassam Stadium and make it a community-owned facility.

Stewart Donald from Hanborough, who this week joined the committee of supporters’ trust OxVox, believes it is the biggest chance the club will have to get the full benefit of the Grenoble Road ground in which they play.

United, who have not been involved in the discussions, have expressed their dismay at a suggested timescale of the end of the season for an agreement between landlord Firoz Kassam, Oxford City Council and OxVox over a potential deal.

But while Mr Donald, who owns National League side Eastleigh, says he fully understands the irritation of chairman U’s Darryl Eales, he is confident the long-term gain will make the wait worthwhile.

He said: “If you put yourself in Darryl’s shoes, you can see exactly where he is coming from.

“He is spending a lot of money, but it is paying off. He’s doing a great job and there has been so much improvement at the club. It’s a great time to be an Oxford United fan.

“But when something is not in your control and you are not part of the talks, it must be so frustrating for him. I can totally see that.

“I have spoken to Darryl and as much as the timescale is important, the certainty of the deal happening is very important to him. And I completely understand that.

“If we can get this deal done, which I think we might be able to, it will feel like the final piece of the jigsaw for Oxford United.”

Oxford Mail:

In October the Oxford Mail exclusively revealed that talks were under way to sell the stadium and make it a community-owned facility.

Mr Kassam confirmed he wanted to see the stadium 'pass into community ownership for the future security of the football club and the benefit of the local community'.

Mr Donald said yesterday the consequences of the deal in 2006 which saw Nick Merry and Ian Lenagan buy the club but not the ground were still being felt.

He added: “The important thing here though is to get the structure right.

“Without being critical of anyone, the previous deal did not leave the football club with any sort of control over its future.

“This is crucial and there is a very real chance here to get that back.

“All I would say is if it takes an extra three months to get it done – and done right – then it will be well worth the wait.”

Mr Donald, a multi-millionaire and a big United fan whose company Bridle Insurance were the club’s main sponsors for a number of years, is happy to provide financial support to help achieve a deal.

He has offered to support previous owners in their bid to buy the stadium from Mr Kassam, but believes this time is the best opportunity to strike an agreement.

Crucially, his input is likely to be in the form of ‘friendly’ money – with minimal or no interest charge.

He said: "I think it’s a critical time to try and get the deal over the line.

“I am pretty certain - as certain as I can be – that this is the probably biggest chance we will get, so I am keen to help.

“I’ve been kept in the loop as much as I’ve been able and all parties involved seem very keen to get the deal done.

“But the devil is in the detail.

“Potentially there may be funds available from myself without the conditions of other investors."

Mr Donald will be involved in the next meeting between the parties, when he believes more detailed financial requirements will be discussed.

Many people have questioned OxVox’s ‘clout’ in trying to strike a deal with Mr Kassam.

But chairman of OxVox Jeremy Faulkner knows the arrival of Mr Donald to their committee enhances their credibility.

He said: "Yes, I accept that. We have been talking to Stewart for a year now, but the time is now.

“It’s great to have him involved – he brings so much to the table.”