Our response to Oxford United's statement regarding their training ground and the Horspath sports park:
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Oxford United have been consulted about the £4.9m Horspath sports park at every stage, including on 8 December and Tuesday this week. This included a discussion about the current proposals, before the planning application was submitted.
“Oxford United put in an outline tender to run the facility, but this was not successful. We have provided the football club with a detailed response to their bid, including the reasons why it was not successful; it is up to the club to decide whether or not they release this information, but, in essence, it did not provide best value for money for the tax payer.
“The successful bid will create a sports park for everyone. It will include 16 natural grass and 3G football pitches, two cricket pitches, football and cricket practice areas, a new pavilion with changing rooms and a 150-space car park – all open to the community.
“We have set aside land in the new sports park for Oxford United to move its existing gyms, changing rooms and classroom from the current sports and social club site onto. We are currently having more detailed discussions with the club about what they need at Horspath, and we understand that they are also negotiating with Oxford City FC about using Court Place Farm.
“So everyone is clear, the background to this story is the following: After the Roman Way sports and social club went into liquidation, BMW took back the club and the football pitches – where Oxford United currently rent space to train – to give itself space to expand in the future.
“Over the last months, the City Council has arranged with BMW for the extension of the lease on the current site until December 2017, allowing Oxford United to continue using the site until the new facilities are ready. The City Council also negotiated with BMW to secure the £4.9m funding for the replacement facility – to create a new and improved facility for the community and Oxford United.
“We then invited competitive tenders, as required by the law, to get the best value for the public purse.
“As ever, our aim is to do what is in the best interests of all Oxford residents. As with the Leys Pools and Leisure Centre and the Rose Hill Community Centre, we want Horspath to provide sports facilities to encourage healthy lifestyles. Currently, men living in the least deprived areas of Oxford can expect to live 9.7 years longer than those living in the most deprived areas.
“The City Council has always strongly supported Oxford United and will continue to discuss the options amicably, despite this ill-judged and ill-informed comment from the Secretary.”