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Oxford United Directors Issue Statement

16 January 2017

Board issue a statement on ownership of the ground

STATEMENT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The board of directors of Oxford United is dismayed about the slow progress regarding negotiations between the representatives of Oxvox and Firoka over the ownership of the Kassam Stadium. While we continue to support the efforts being made to find a solution, we call on Oxvox, Firoz Kassam and the City Council to accelerate the process for the good of the club, the fans, and to safeguard the future of OUFC.

We do not understand why, as stated by Oxvox, it will take until the end of the season to reach Heads of Terms over the sale of the ground. 

While we understand that certain issues  cannot be resolved until later, there is no reason why an outline of the deal cannot be signed in weeks, even days, and not months as suggested. Mr Kassam made a public statement on October 7, 2016 of his desire to sell the stadium. It is only reasonable to ask why it is taking so long to conclude Heads of Terms?

While we are supportive of the three-party discussions, we find it strange that we are not included in them. As the tenant, we are clearly a very interested party, and without any direct involvement, we continue to be left in the dark as to how the final deal may impact the club and indeed when such a deal is likely to be finalised. We remain happy to join the negotiations at any stage.  

It is important for fans to know that the continued uncertainty around the stadium ownership will have a major impact on our ability to plan for the future. Our chairman has stated on many occasions that his ambition is to build long-term, sustainable success for the club, and this is extremely difficult under the current circumstances.  As we begin the budget process for next season, we will be forced to adopt a worst-case scenario, where we continue to have no benefit from revenues generated at the ground on match days, and we continue to pay an occupancy cost to Firoka that we feel is out of step with the service we receive.

The ongoing stadium uncertainty will result in us having to retrench our ambitions, narrow our horizons and even look at playing elsewhere until we find a new, permanent home. This will also mean a serious review of the playing budget and of our support of the academy.

We know that all loyal fans of OUFC are eager to see more investment in the club to continue the progress that has been achieved over the past two-and-a-half years. We are, too, and the chairman has shown by his funding of the club how determined he is. As directors of the club, however, it is our fiduciary duty to advise the owner/chairman, and the outcome of negotiations over the ground is key to our ability to plan ahead and for more investment. 

We are grateful to Oxvox and the Council for their efforts to try and resolve this situation for the good of the club. However, we call on them and Firoz Kassam to explain why Heads of Terms cannot be expedited so that we can eliminate the uncertainty that currently exists.

As a Board, we stand as one on this issue. We also call
upon all supporters of the club to back the Board¹s stance in seeking a speedy resolution of this matter. We are all interested in a brighter, more prosperous and settled future for OUFC.

Steve Dolton, Darryl Eales, David Jones, Simon Kelner, Peter Lee, Lionel Tarassenko, Greig Box-Turnbull
(The Board of Directors of Oxford United)

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