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Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Stadium News, Fans Forum and League Win

Oxford United

Another week but one with some more positivity than recent ones for Oxford United, which ended with a league win.

It started sour with another backroom departure but there was another stadium update and promising fans forum before the U’s picked up three points against Cheltenham.

Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Stadium Update, Fans Forum and Three Points

Another Departure

On Monday, Oxford announced that Niall Williams will leave the club at the end of the season.

The former managing director joined the U’s in 2017 and has overseen the acquisition of the club’s first permanent training ground and championed the development of the Women’s football programme.

McWilliams also made a significant contribution the the academy development programme and, of course, led the key first stage of the new stadium project.

Chairman, Grant Ferguson, commented: “Niall has not only been a great leader of this club but a true fan, and will leave an indelible legacy.

“Much of the work he has done to improve the club he joined seven years ago goes on largely unnoticed behind the scenes but, for sure, it is appreciated.”

McWilliams added: “I have been an Oxford United supporter since the moment I walked into the Manor Ground in December 1990 to watch a 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

“Promotion back to the league at Wembley, last-minute wins in our play-off seasons and recent matches against Manchester City and Newcastle United are some of the games that will forever live in my memory.

“It has been a privilege to have worked with Oxford United, a club that means so much to me and my family.

He added: “Now that the stadium planning application has been submitted, it seems to be the right time for me to step down from my senior leadership role at the end of the season.

“The stadium project is being led by an experienced group of people who have a history of success in projects of this nature. I am delighted to still contribute to a project that means so much to me when the club thinks necessary and continue to be involved in its community outreach with OUitC.”

Oxford United Stadium Update

On Wednesday, Oxford United confirmed that Cherwell District Council has now validated Oxford United’s planning application for its new, modern, eco-friendly 16,000-capacity stadium.

They released the following statement which answered questions as to what will happen next:

“Planning applications follow a strict procedure as set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (as amended). The next steps are:

-The validation of the planning application has now triggered its consultation period – this allows 21 days for formal comments from key consultees and the public. However, it is commonplace now for consultees to go past the 21 days, particularly in cases like this where there is a large application to read.

-A 16-week determination period has also commenced, which runs to 21st During the determination period the club will seek to address all key consultation responses and agree any potential Section 106 contributions.

-At the end of the determination period, the Council will refer the application to the Secretary of State (SoS) to see whether they would like to call the application in for determination at national level, since the proposals comprise major development in the Green Belt. If the SoS decides not to call the application in the Council can then proceed to determinate the application, that will then reported to committee and a decision notice issued. If the application is called in a public inquiry will be held to determine the acceptability of the proposals. It should be noted that the application can be called in by the SoS at any time during the consideration of the application.

-Subject to Cherwell District Council, the club will ask for a determination at Planning Committee in July/August this year. If it is not possible to determine the application in the summer, the next planning committee meetings would be in either September or October.

-If determined, the club will then have planning conditions to address before development can commence. The club will look to agree conditions during the application with any conditions likely to be focused on the implementation and detail of any consent that is forthcoming. The club would seek to get these submitted at the earliest opportunity after a decision has been determined to allow work to commence on-site as soon as is practical.

Fans Forum

Oxford supporters have been calling out for a fans forum and better communication with Chairman, Grant Ferguson and CEO, Tim Williams, for some time.

On Thursday, they got their wish and it was a fairly promising and productive meeting, with several fans in attendance or watching online.

Some key points from the event was that Ferguson claimed the cost for the new proposed new stadium now sits around £150 million, while development director, Jon Clarke, said there is no Plan B should the club fail to land their primary site.

Win Over the Robins

The U’s then ended a four-game winless run with a victory at home against Cheltenham.

Josh Murphy gave the hosts the lead in first-half stoppage time but Des Buckingham’s side once again squandered the lead with the Robins netting an equaliser with ten minutes remaining.

However, Greg Leigh netted his first Oxford goal since returning from injury late in the game to pick up a vital three points.


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