Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Defender Departs, Stadium Update and Pre-Season Success

Oxford United

As the new season closes in, it has been a fairly busy week for Oxford United. The U’s sold defender Luke McNally to Burnley, Oxford’s Managing Director has given an update on their hunt for the site for a new stadium and the club took part in their first pre-season friendly.

Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Luke McNally Joins Burnley, Stadium Update and Pre-Season Opener

Defender Departs

As expected, defender Luke McNally left Oxford to join recently relegated Burnley. While the figure remains undisclosed, reports claim that the U’s accepted a bid of around £2 million.

The defender only joined the U’s in January 2021 and made just 35 appearances for the club. Despite that, it will be a huge blow ahead of the new campaign to lose a promising youngster.

It leaves Karl Robinson with Elliott Moore, summer signing Ciaron Brown and 36-year-old John Mousinho as the club’s only recognised centre-backs.

Academy Staff Update

Former U’s player and current manager of North Leigh, Eddie Odhiambo, has been appointed head of academy player care. The 68th academy graduate to turn out for Oxford will fulfil the role alongside his current job with the Millers.

Elsewhere, former U’s youngsters AJ George and Jack Gardner have become academy coaches, along with former Reading scholar, Niall Keown.

Matt Jarvis, who has been with the club for three years, has been appointed as the assistant academy manager.

Oxford United Managing Director Gives Stadium Update

Niall Williams, Oxford United’s managing director, says there is “no possibility” of securing a long-term lease at their current ground at Grenoble Road.

This comes as the club step up in their bid to secure the land at Stratfield Brake, just south of Kidlington, towards submitting a planning application for a new ground.

The club’s initial proposal includes an 18,000-capacity stadium, community and sports grounds and hotel, retail and conference facilities.

And with their lease at Grenoble Road expiring in 2026, McWilliams reiterated their future at the site is in the hands of landlords Firoka, owned by former U’s chairman Firoz Kassam.

“There’s no possibility to extend our lease for a long time,” he told the Oxford Mail.

“We’ve tried our best to make that clear, it’s a question that we get asked on a weekly basis.

“The stadium belongs to Firoka and it’s their prerogative to do what they want with it.”

Asked if United are on good terms with their landlord, McWilliams said: “The relationship on an operational basis is still a very good one, and it’s been that way for a long time.

“We’ll have to see where we are over the next two to three months.

“We have contingency plans in place, but at this moment in time we’re making sure we can get that planning permission in.”

The club must reach an agreement with the county council, which owns the land, along with its tenants and sub-tenants at the sports ground ahead of their proposed move.

Once approved, Oxford United can submit a planning application to the planning authority Cherwell District Council.

McWilliams added: “For us to be in a new stadium, wherever that may be, we’ll have to have a planning application in by the start of 2023 at the very latest.

“It might seem a long way, but it seems like tomorrow for us and we’re working very hard on a complex issue.”

U’s Hit Five Past Oxford City in Pre-Season Opener

Oxford United scored five times against Oxford City on Saturday in their first pre-season friendly.

Zac McEachran opened the scoring for the hosts but the U’s responded with a brace from Cameron Brannagan and strikes from James Henry and Sam Long.

City scored again after the restart but Marcus Browne fired home a fifth goal on the hour mark.