Oxford United fans were the very first in England to achieve a ‘community asset’ status for their stadium. This means the owner cannot sell it without their knowledge. He tried to protest, but has now been rejected.
Firoz Kassam, the owner of Kassam Stadium (but not of Oxford United any more) has filed an appeal to the Oxford Magistrates’ Court (OMC) against his building being listed as a community asset. This status was granted last year after supporters launched a bid for legal protection of their stadium, fearing Kassam may sell it or demolish, leaving their club homeless.
Kassam’s appeal was now rejected by the OMC, which upheld the protected status of Kassam Stadium. This may be considered another success for OxVox, the fan group behind initial campaign. They were the first fanbase in England to secure their stadium’s community asset status and have now defended it.
The legal status is based on 2011 Localism Act, which recognizes buildings of special importance to the community. Protection means that should an owner decide to sell the place, he has to inform the community well in advance and allow them to counter-bid with potential buyers.
According to the judge at OMC supporters should be allowed to have that right. Judge Nicholas Warren said: “The cultural, recreational and sporting interests with which I am concerned extend wider than the hour and a half or so for which 20 to 30 men play a game of football.
“The existence of a home town club, intrinsically linked to the use of its home ground, fosters community pride, stimulates daily conversations in pubs, work places and online, forges friendships and encourages the mix of generations.”