Oxford United have agreed a transfer of lease for their training ground, Oxford Sports Park, to secure a long-term training base for the club and for the continuation of community sports activities, with the agreement of site owner Oxford City Council.
Oxford Sports Park has been under development since 2017. Part of the development has been to provide Oxford United with training facilities suitable for a professional club, and their tenancy has been a cornerstone of the development.
Discussions have been ongoing between Oxford United FC and Fusion Lifestyle who were the original leaseholder about the terms of United’s tenancy at the site, and the lease transfer has been agreed by both parties with the endorsement of Oxford City Council as the site’s owner.
The ground provides sports facilities for the community, and includes cricket facilities and a community sports pavilion, 3G artificial football pitches will also be available for hire as well as other opportunities for a variety of community sport. The agreement sees OUFC take over management and running of the whole site for the remaining 23 years of the lease.
As well as the club’s current community engagement the plan includes the following commitments:
- Provide free nutrition classes, fitness classes for vulnerable groups and mental health workshops.
- Have literacy/numeracy classes with combined training sessions led by the players.
- Hold football sessions for people experiencing homelessness
- Hold all school football finals at the grounds, organised and run by OUFC as well as two football festivals and a kwik cricket festival a year
- There will also be access to the grounds for community use, with the exception of Sunday mornings when the Youth Academy runs. A requirement of the contract and funding that OUFC receives from the English Football League (EFL) is that there are no other users on site at the same time.
Aileen Carlisle, Executive Director for Communities and Customer Services at Oxford City Council, said
“The City Council’s plan for the site has always included a tenancy for Oxford United, and this agreement secures their place for the long-term. Oxford United have outlined a wide range of community activity, which is part of the covenant for Oxford Sports Park. The new terms significantly increase community sports provision, with Oxford United offering activities based on their professional expertise as well as use of the facilities at the site.”
Chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth, said
“This is fantastic news for our football club; a massively positive move in the right direction and a big step forward that will give us a proper training base and truly enable us to build for the future with our Academy and Community work. We firmly believe that the club should be at the heart of the community and this gives us somewhere to bring local footballers to experience professional facilities and benefit from the experience of the staff here.
“This was a joint decision and so much good work to transform what was a field two years ago in to a sports base which we are very proud to call home.
“I would also like to thank the City Council who have been first class ever since the ground was first suggested as an option, and in particular Niall McWilliams who has worked so hard to make this possible.
“The Board are committed to the long term future not just of the football club but to football in the local area and this is another very important step forward to make everyone proud of their football club