NIALL McWilliams insists talks between Oxford United and Firoka today are worth pursuing.

The U’s announced last week they had set up a meeting, after the winding-up petition filed by their Kassam Stadium landlords over late payment of rent was dismissed in court.

Many will be sceptical over their chances of making progress.

But McWilliams, the club’s managing director, knows gaining control over their destiny – one way or another – is vital to future prospects.

And while admitting Firoka, owned by former United chairman Firoz Kassam, hold all the cards, McWilliams is optimistic bridges can be built after a turbulent few months.

“We hope so,” he said.

“What we really want is a deal that’s fair and reasonable and allows for the club to be sustainable.

Also read: U's set for more miles after League One line-up for next season is completed

“We’re not asking for any favours, just fairness.”

United are looking at alternative sites for a stadium of their own, but it is years from becoming a reality so improving the existing arrangement is paramount.

McWilliams said: “We are genuinely looking at that possibility, however at this stage it’s still a significant way away.

“We’ve made some progress but not real significant progress on that.

“We are never going to rule out staying at the Kassam Stadium, we’d just like it to be more of a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

He added: “For the long-term future of the club it’s very difficult for us to be sustainable under the present conditions.

“Until we sort the situation with the stadium, whether that’s short, medium or long term – and it may never be possible – it’s very difficult for us to thrive as a club.”

Getting concessions from Firoka looks a tall order, given the context of legal action over the quarterly rent bill which was paid late.

McWilliams acknowledged it did not help United’s case, but felt whatever the chances of improving their circumstances, they had to try.

“What we have to do is make sure those terms are paid on time, I don’t think anyone can argue with that,” he said.

“I don’t think we should waste any emotional energy, but meeting and putting physical energy into the situation could be worthwhile.”

He added: “I totally understand it’s nothing personal.

“Every time I’ve met Mr Kassam he has been delightful and polite.

“I have no problem that business is business, however that principle has to apply to Oxford United, not just other organisations that we work with.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that a stadium – our own one or more control of the present situation – would allow us to be more financially sustainable.”