Oxford United fans win bid to protect Kassam Stadium
Oxford United fans have won their bid to protect the club's Kassam Stadium after it became the first to be listed as a "community asset".
The application by supporters' trust OxVox was approved by Oxford City Council and means the group must be notified if the ground is to be sold.
They will then have six months to put together their own bid for the stadium.
OxVox's success will interest Liverpool and Manchester United fans, who hope to protect Anfield and Old Trafford.
A decision on those applications to the respective local authorities, under the government's Localism Act, is expected in the next four to six weeks.
"This is a significant moment for the supporters of Oxford United," said OxVox chairman Mark Sennett.
What is an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and how does a listing work?
- A building, or other land, is an asset of community value if its main use is, or has recently been, to "further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community" and it could do so in the future
- The request must come from a voluntary or community body with a local connection and relate to land in the local authority's area, or in the neighbouring local authority's area
- The listing lasts for five years and also includes should the stadium be put up for sale, a 'right to bid', which can be lodged by the group concerned within a period of six weeks, with finance secured in a period of up to four-and-a-half months
"We're delighted with the council's decision. This means United supporters will now never wake up one morning to read in the paper that the stadium has been sold, with no recourse.
"The stadium is of huge local importance to the people of Oxfordshire and the club's role is a source of huge community benefit and pride.
"Because of this listing, supporters and the Oxfordshire community will be able to play more of a role in its destiny."
Oxford have played at the stadium since it was opened in 2001 by then-U's owner Firoz Kassam, who sold the club but kept the ground in 2006.
Current club owner Ian Lenagan has previously stated his desire to try to buy the ground, although a joint bid with rugby union side London Welsh, who moved in last summer after their Old Deer Park home did not meet Premiership criteria, has also been mooted.
Tom Hall, from Supporters Direct, the governing body for supporters' trusts, said it was a significant moment for football fans across the country.
"There are still too many cases of football grounds being treated like any other asset, and this legislation gives us an opportunity to begin to change that assumption," said Hall.
"OxVox's application to list the Kassam Stadium is the first successful one involving a football ground.
"We've had significant interest since we started promoting this scheme amongst out member supporters' trusts, and both the Manchester United Supporters' Trust and Spirit of Shankly are currently seeking listings for Old Trafford and Anfield,
"We hope that this successful application by OxVox, in many respects groundbreaking, encourages other supporters' trusts to do the same."