WORK has started on a £2m sports development at Oxford City Football Club.

The Community Arena development will include a full-size artificial grass pitch, pavilion and new car park together with six floodlit netball courts.

The facility, which will be open to the city’s sporting community, is being built alongside the stadium at Court Place Farm, Marston, and is expected to be complete by October.

Chairman Brian Cox said: “It’s fantastic for the club and for the community as a whole.

“General sporting facilities are so poor for a city like Oxford, but this development should benefit all the local clubs in the area.”

The club ran a massive fundraising campaign and grants were given by Sport England and the Football Foundation. Oxfordshire Netball donated £80,000 and Oxfordshire Sport Council £40,000.

All netball league matches, involving about 1,500 players, will take place at the new site.

Kate Hopcroft, secretary of Oxfordshire Netball, said: “It’s massive for us.

“At the moment we haven’t been able to expand as there are no good quality facilities, especially for tournaments.

“We have not had a base where people can come and see netball and where it can grow.”

Ms Hopcroft said she was hoping the new base would also encourage the development of corporate leagues, with female work colleagues forming teams.

She added: “It’s all about more women and girls getting involved in team sport.”

Oxford City is already the largest participation club in the county, with more than 30 teams.

They are run by more than 150 volunteer staff, coaches, committee members and directors.

The club is also heavily involved in education through the Oxford Football Partnership with Oxford and Cherwell Valley College and the Premier Sports Group. It provides full-time educational courses linked with football coaching. More than 50 students are now based at the club.

Football apprenticeships have also been set up involving 40 would-be coaches and players, which includes 18-year-old city first team striker Felipe Barcelos.

Premier Sports director Jon Gardner said: “To be able to play and train in state-of-the-art facilities will be a huge boost for us.”

Classrooms are also planned for the site by the club, which won The Oxford Times Charity and Community category of the Oxfordshire Business Awards last year.