London Welsh blamed lack of support from the Oxford public for their decision to stop playing rugby at the Kassam Stadium.

The Exiles announced yesterday that they were ending their three-year ground share with Oxford United and returning to their Old Deer Park base in south-west London for the 2015-6 Championship season, with still two years remaining on their contract.

This followed a disastrous last campaign in the Aviva Premiership in which they failed to win a single match.

However, stadium owner Firoz Kassam last night hinted that London Welsh could return to Oxford should they regain their place in the top flight.

London Welsh moved to the Kassam Stadium in 2012 with high expectations, having won the Championship play-off against Cornish Pirates in their first match on the ground before embarking on their first season in the Premiership.

Despite holding their own in an exciting campaign, they ended up being relegated.

Exiles won the Championship playoff final in 2013-14 to regain their Premiership place, but last season proved a disaster.

Chairman Bleddyn Phillips said: “We have enjoyed a very exciting and challenging period in Oxford these past three years. We have had successes on and off the pitch “Yet we also need to recognise that perhaps the degree of support, both in terms of ground attendance and commercial sponsorship, may not have been quite as extensive as we might have hoped or wished for.

“We believe we have made a considerable contribution to the community in Oxfordshire, both in terms of local clubs and schools.

“And we feel privileged and pleased to have been able to make such contributions over the past three years to these communities in Oxfordshire.”

In a statement, Welsh said: “The club recognises and would like to thank the support of the Oxford rugby community and its followers, and sincerely hopes that our new Oxford fanbase will stay with us.

“We now look forward to the next period in the club’s history when we can build on the experiences of the past three years.

“We will play at Old Deer Park but will continue to look at other facilities appropriate for hosting top-level rugby.”

This could still be in Oxford according to Kassam.

The stadium owner said: “I’m disappointed they are leaving – we had a great relationship with London Welsh.

“If they regain their place in the Premiership, I have an open mind as to whether they play at Oxford again.

“I’ll be happy to talk to them,” added Kassam, who declined to discuss what penalty Welsh might pay for ending their contact two years early.

The announcement came as the new surface was being laid at the Kassam Stadium, after the wear and tear caused by having two sports played on it, led to severe criticism of the pitch last season, especially from football fans.

Asked if Oxford United would have invested as much in the pitch had he known Welsh were leaving, chief executive Mark Ashton replied:“Yes, we would’ve had to, because what is to say if they had x-amount of years left on their contract they wouldn’t come back?

“You could not just build a grassbased pitch and run the risk of something else coming up.”

Jeremy Faulkner, chairman of United’s independent supporters’ trust, OxVox: “I think the vast majority of fans will be happy.

“From what I understand they did a lot of good things in the community, but it’s a football stadium and our home.

“As the pitch started to deteriorate over the last few seasons the hardening of disapproval from United fans increased.”