Lease agreement signed

14th May 2024

The following update was emailed to OxVox members on 10 May. To receive these updates immediately they are released, join OxVox today.

Amid the excitement and exhausting joy of securing our place at Wembley, there has also been a fabulous mirroring of that positive progression on the stadium front.

Today the club announced that the full lease has been signed with Oxfordshire County Council. Like the season, this has been a long journey of ups and downs and the job is by no means finished, but this is another large stepping stone towards the safety and prosperity of our club but also to the creation of a community hub to reflect the county’s traditions for excellence and innovation.

While discussing the signing of the lease with the club over the last few weeks and days we have been careful to go over the protections we have always insisted upon in the contract. In fairness the club have always been very public about their support for these protections and from the very early work with Niall McWilliams through to our current work with Jon Clarke these points, and the nature of the community aspect of the stadium, have been some of the guiding principles of the project.

The lease is currently on a five year option (the club has five years to activate the lease, assuming planning is given). The lease will secure the stadium for 250 years solely for the use of Oxford United to play football. The club can also not be ‘priced out’ of playing at the ground. While the club have no intention of charging a rent, this is an important protection we asked to be included as we want the club to be secure for future generations and under any potential new owners. In fact the plan is for the hotel and conference facilities and revenue from the stadium to pay the loans taken out and to provide a trickle down system that feeds any excess straight back into the club.

There are also safeguards against who the club can assign to when arranging those loans and if the club choose to set up a stadium company to own the stadium (useful for financial reasons) then those same club directors must be the directors of that company and all the protections remain in place.

There were numerous other protections discussed, and we will wait until we have read the relevant sections of the lease in person to confirm those, something we have been assured of by both councillors and the club.

We remain vigilant of the protection of the club we love but confident that, on as wide a scope as is possible, the protections are there for most eventualities.

The club meanwhile have committed to pressing forward with their work in the Kidlington community which is something we have been keen for them to refocus on. Ten grants of a thousand pounds each are going out to the local community and the club are extending their outreach to local schools, youth groups and businesses.

For the club to work they needed to take the supporters with them. For the stadium to work we need to take the community with us.

Thank you so much in advance for this and all of the hard word done by members and supporters in order to get us here. By remaining calm and keeping up reasoned debate and by making sure our voice is heard in the right way, we have progressed to this point.

Both on and off the field we stand the edge of something incredibly special. Seeing supporters flood in and out of Kidlington Parkway will allow many of us to dream of huge Championship games in a stadium the county can truly be proud of.

It is sometimes good to dream. It is even better to believe.

Loud and proud for the final game of an amazing season…..COYY !

United on Track

Finally, a little teaser. Have your cameras ready on the road to Wembley. We will be releasing details of our United on Track initiative in the coming days.
Paul Peros