Oxford City Council and Oxford United are set to agree a deal that will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the club and the community at a new £4.9m sports complex.
The proposal would see Oxford United secure a long-term training ground and base for their academy, and includes a strong commitment to community support. As well as their 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 their 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.
About Oxford Sports Park
The £4.9m Sports Park development, funded by BMW, began in 2017. The contract to develop and manage the site was won by Fusion Lifestyle with a lease to manage the site for 25 years.
The development of the site has had two main purposes, to be a training and academy facility for Oxford United FC and to enable some wider community use of the site.
Oxford United and Horspath Youth have been trialling use of the site in the final stages of development, which has also enabled testing of shared use between professional and community sports.
Fusion Lifestyle have been in discussions with Oxford United on the terms of lease for the football club’s training facilities. Over the last year Oxford United has undertaken grounds maintenance on the site as well as using the site as a training ground and for its academy.
Fusion Lifestyle and Oxford United have also been in discussion on the management and maintenance of the site. Together they recommended their preferred option is for the lease to be reassigned from Fusion Lifestyle to Oxford United.
“Creating a long-term training base for Oxford United at the Sports Park has been an integral part of the development of the site. We believe they are well placed to manage the site and like us they are keen to ensure that community use of the site remains a key element of any future tenancy. Their proposals offer excellent opportunities for grassroots sport to benefit from the skills and resources of Oxford’s professional team.
“This is an opportunity to secure a strong future for OUFC in the community by ensuring a long-term training facility, which will also see them delivering for local schools, girls involvement in football and wider health initiatives.”
Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Housing
The proposal will be discussed at Oxford City Council’s Cabinet meeting on 9 October.