Sent to members today, Monday 10 January 2022, and issued on social media:
Good afternoon everyone on this day of exciting news.
Today, 10 January 2022, marks an important and significant turning point in the long and complex process of identifying and securing a site for a new stadium for Oxford United.
For a number of years we at OxVox have been involved in discussions with the club, councils and other stakeholders, and we’re very pleased that the club can now release the initial details of project to fans and to the wider public.
OxVox have never taken lightly our commitment to keeping members and fans informed and up to date with such important moves within the club, but we also respect the need for confidentiality with such sensitive issues. We have therefore regularly stated that while we have been involved in ongoing discussions, we have held back details to offer those involved the best chance of success.
While remaining open to all options available throughout the process, OxVox fully support the decision to seek a viable alternative to the Kassam Stadium. As many are aware, the licence agreement for the Kassam offers little chance of financial sustainability and growth. We have under five years before our current agreement finishes and no absolute guarantee that we will be able to continue to play there after that point. We support the choice of location at Stratfield Brake, which is something that we discussed at length with the club. To our mind the club had to remain in and around Oxford and close to the city whose name we proudly bear. The club of course were obligated to look at all options but OxVox have remained firm on this point and would have insisted on consultation with the supporters had an option further afield in the county been pursued.
Stratfield Brake offers many benefits with regards to transport, local amenities and proximity to an expanding fan base. The rail links would make us significantly more sustainable and potentially improve away attendance. Of course other sites had merits but having considered all options available to the club, we agreed that this was the best option to provide the club with a sustainable home, close to the city, and the most likely to succeed moving forward.
With regards to staying as tenants at the Kassam Stadium, or buying the ground itself, a lot of work has been done by ourselves and the club to examine these possibilities. Our attempts to engage on the subject of community ownership appeared of little interest to Firoka and we felt the chance of anyone buying the stadium at an affordable price was incredibly slim. This and the instability of our diminishing licence agreement made action on the stadium issue a priority for us and thankfully also our club.
Amid today’s optimism it is also right to strike a note of caution. While this progress is a big milestone, it is just the first major step in what will be a long and difficult process. There will be huge hurdles to contend with and patience will need to be shown, but having seen the hard work that has already gone in I believe we have never been in a better position to succeed.
While supporting these efforts wholeheartedly, OxVox has always kept the future security and stability of the club at the forefront of discussions. At this stage we are quietly confident that agreements will be in place to wed the stadium to the club for the very long term and that these assurances will be legally binding. This is something we will continue to work with both the club and the council to ensure. We will also work with the OUSP if, as we all hope, we progress to the stage where match day experience and stadium facilities can be discussed. We have already put forward a number of suggestions to the club and expect to engage further with the club at the appropriate time.
So what can we as fans do now?
We have been pressing the club for better communication with supporters and we now have an outline of what is to come. Now is the time for us not only to voice our opinions but to come together and add our voice to this effort. The club need to know our views and the councils need to know we are fully behind these plans to give them the greatest chance of success. So now more than ever we urge every one of you that is not already a member of OxVox, to join us. Your voice is vital: if the supporters trust can boast over a thousand members and rising, then our voice gets louder and louder. OxVox have a number of initiatives planned including a members’ fans forum, consultation with members and fans and proactive work with councils. For all this we need your help.
Now is the time to join with fellow supporters and help make a real difference. The details of how to join OxVox are below and we ask any non-member reading this to join us now and help. Members, nudge those friends who haven’t got round to joining. We have never needed your support more. We have a rare golden opportunity to help secure the future of our club and to move it forward for generations to come. Join us now and have your say in it.
Thank you all for your support and a very happy new year to everyone.
To join OxVox, visit the trust website at http://www.oxvox.org.uk and follow the JOIN NOW link at the top of the page. £10 will buy you 3 years’ membership.
If you are renewing an existing membership please visit http://www.oxvox.org.uk/