OXFORD United’s managing director knows it is a big season for the club – but he is not talking about a potential promotion push.

While Karl Robinson and his players concentrate on Sky Bet League One, Niall McWilliams will focus on an issue that will dictate the U’s future.

United hope to make progress on their preferred new stadium site at Stratfield Brake, located south of Kidlington, with proposals including community and sports grounds and hotel, retail and conference facilities.

READ MORE: Oxford United MD on Kassam Stadium lease and Stratfield Brake timeline

The U’s are hoping to submit a planning application by the start of next year and time is of the essence, with their license agreement at the Kassam Stadium set to expire in 2026.

“It’s a significant season of enormous consequence because of the stadium issue,” McWilliams said.

“We know we have to move, we didn’t ask for our lease to be terminated and we’re hopeful that we can find a solution.

“We want to continue to work with the local community in Kidlington and doing right for them and for Oxfordshire.

“The county will be getting international-class facilities and it won’t be costing them a thing.

“The future of the club is in the community’s hands.”

The U’s are aiming to secure a long-term lease for the land, owned by Oxfordshire County Council, and must reach an agreement with the local authority, as well as its tenants and sub-tenants at Stratfield Brake.

The stadium is not the only major off-pitch issue rumbling along in the background at United.

The U’s are in the process of a change of ownership which will see Indonesian investors Anindya Bakrie and Erick Thohir, plus their associates, take control of the club from chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth.

News of the boardroom reshuffle first broke back in March 2021 and updates since then have been few and far between.

But McWilliams insists it is business as usual, with those investors already heavily involved with the club.

He said: “I know it has an impact on people’s perception, but it makes no difference in how we operate on a daily basis.

“We still have the same process and continue to be ambitious.”

Just last month, United appointed Grant Ferguson as a director. The 60-year-old was on the board at Italian giants Inter Milan from 2014 to 2017, when Thohir was chairman.

READ MORE: Former Inter Milan board member appointed Oxford United director

Ferguson was already involved with the U’s behind the scenes and has made a good impression.

McWilliams said: “I’ve got a good working relationship with him, he’s strategic in his thoughts, he’s got high standards and wants what’s best for the city and the club.

“He’s intelligent and experienced and a really positive addition to the board.”

Overall, United's MD is optimistic about the years ahead at a crucial time in the club's history.

He added: “The progress that we’ve made is enormous and I’m positive because the board has backed us in the infrastructure.

“The training ground is an enormous asset for us.

“It’s our first permanent home in 129 years and the facilities will become outstanding, not just for a League One club but for a Championship club.

“I’m positive about the future of the club.”