A CAMPAIGN to wrestle back control of the beleaguered Oxford stadium has received a major break-through.

Yesterday, Oxford City Council released a long-awaited study which says speedway and greyhound racing could return and the stadium has a viable future.

Five Lines Consulting looked at whether there was a business case for reopening the stadium which has been left to ruin since 2012 after developers were thwarted in their attempts to build housing on the site.

Despite challenges in the greyhound and speedway markets, the report found Oxford's long connection with the sports and a growing economy meant the Sandy Lane stadium could turn a profit.

It concluded a revitalised stadium could create 62 new jobs and generate £3.1million for the local economy as well as boost the profile of the city through high profile events and live TV broadcasts.

Councillor for Blackbird Leys Linda Smith said it was an 'important milestone' for the future development of the stadium.

She added: “This report, commissioned from independent experts, shows how with the right investment, and support from the governing bodies of greyhound racing and speedway, and local people, this historic and much-loved venue could re-open for business as a major sports and hospitality centre, whilst also maintaining its current community uses.”

She added: “I accept a lot more work needs to be done to firm up the future of the stadium but I know bringing it back to life would be welcomed by the people of Oxford.

"Many Oxford families, especially in the Leys area of the city which I represent, have supported it for decades.

"The return of motor sport in a city renowned for its motor manufacturing would be both apt and symbolic.”

To make the venue viable, some of the site would have to be turned over to housing and other activities, such as stock car racing and conference centre could be included.

Existing tenants including a go-kart company, a dance group and motorcycle trainers would remain with more space being provided for other potential new businesses to move in.

The council has now commissioned a second report to look at how it can convince the current owners of the site, Cowley Property Investments Ltd, to sell or whether it will be forced to initiate a compulsory purchase order.

This second report, which will also look at options for investment, development and operating arrangements for the site, is likely to be completed by the summer.

Campaigners from the Save our Stadium group said although much of the site has fallen in to a poor state, they could have it ready for racing within three weeks once given the go-ahead.

Geoff Barber, 68, who was previously clerk of the course for speedway and has been attending races at the stadium since 1956, said: "It's so sad to see it now in such a dilapidated state, it is horrible.

"We've said it all along: to pull a facility like that down would be criminal, it was always heaving daily.

"It wouldn't take much to get it going again, there is such a committed group who would all pitch in to get things started.

"Oxford needs it, this area needs it, it gives people such pleasure - we've got to get it open again."

The new report is the latest development in the long-running saga over the future of the stadium, which has hosted greyhound racing and speedway since 1939.

In 2016, the Oxford Mail revealed the site was still making a profit before it was shut down, despite those behind the business saying it was no longer 'viable'.

Several separate consortiums have since come forward to express an interest in running the site but the developers have shown no sign of being prepared to sell.

Five Lines Consulting said the council has had an informal approach from an interested potential operator who wants to invest in the site.

Several challenges need to be overcome, according to the consultants, including a new speedway team created for Oxford and the need to ensure people use the stadium on non-race days so it keeps generating income.

Rob Jeffery, 52, who has been going to speedway since he was five said time was running out to get the stadium reopen.

He added: "The love for the sport is passed on from generation to generation, children come with their parents and get hooked.

"We all miss it - we still go to races in Cardiff and Swindon but it's nothing like it used to be in Oxford.

"10 years is a long time without races and I'm worried we'll lose the fanbase if we wait much longer.

"We need a home, it is just sat there waiting for us to come back."