Oxford Mail Article March 1999

Yellow Robin

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Recently I came across an article from the Oxford Mail that I thought might be worth posting for the younger members of the forum. It was dated 31 March 1999 and written by Chris Koenig. There is also a page one comment.

The article heading was UNITED: IT'S UP TO YOU
Subheading was Have a say on stadium deal

It's up to you, folks. The future of the Oxford United stadium has been put into the hands of the people.

Council taxpayers will be asked to take part in a poll to gauge public reaction to a deal with white knight Firoz Kassam.

The entrepreneur wants to give the council a stake in the new stadium at Minchery Farm - in return for handing over nearby land for a leisure complex, including a hotel, multiplex cinema and bowling alley.

Oxford City council leader John Tanner said the "scientific poll" would discover whether there was public support for the deal.

After a council committee agreed the move yesterday, Mr Tanner said: "I am delighted that we have been able to strike a deal with Mr Kassam, but nothing is signed yet.

We want to consult the public at two meetings in Blackbird Leys and Littlemore to see if people want a leisure development of this type. We will seek wider public opinion throughout the city through a scientific opinion poll to see if others think this is as good a deal as we do".

The Oxford Mail can reveal that details of the plan were unveiled in a confidential session of the council's strategy and resources committee. Under the arrangement the council will collect £1m from Mr Kassam in three payments. This money broadly represents the £900,000 which the club already owes, plus interest.

Mr Kassam will then pay to complete the half-built stadium by January 1.

Finally, the council will swap two valuable pieces of development land next to the site for a 20 per cent stake in the company that will own and run the stadium.

Mr Kassam wants permission to build a multiplex cinema, and although the council approval for the original leisure scheme excluded a multiplex, this could be overturned later.

But Mr Kassam will not be permitted to develop the land until he has completed the stadium.

The council and the club would have to pay a six-figure sum to Thames Water, former owner of the land, to lift a covenant prohibiting use of the stadium site for commercial purposes.

And they would need to pay out again for commercial use of the leisure sites.

The page on comment was:
For the first time in years, the future of Oxford United is not to be in the hands of the money men. Instead, the people of the city hold the key to its future.
The ordinary man and woman in the street, who in years past helped to build the club from Southern League obscurity to top-flight fame, are again in the spotlight. Their opinions will be honoured. They will determine whether United languishes in the Last Chance Saloon or rides out to fame and fortune.
The city needs the glory. The fans deserve it. Let's hope this opportunity is firmly grasped.
 

Colin B

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“ Mr Kassam will then pay to COMPLETE the half-built stadium by January 1st “

“ Mr Kassam will not be permitted to develop the land until he has COMPLETED the stadium “
If I remember correctly, Kassam argued (and possibly went to court) to determine that a three sided stadium constituted a finished stadium in this case!

He won and that's why we have a bloody garden fence where a stand is supposed to be!!!
 

AbbeyOx

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If I remember correctly, Kassam argued (and possibly went to court) to determine that a three sided stadium constituted a finished stadium in this case!

He won and that's why we have a bloody garden fence where a stand is supposed to be!!!
I think most people would agree that a (completed) football stadium has four sides. My mate worked at the Kassam when it was being built and seems to remember the foundations were put in for fourth stand so logic would say that it is unfinished
 

Colin B

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I think most people would agree that a (completed) football stadium has four sides. My mate worked at the Kassam when it was being built and seems to remember the foundations were put in for fourth stand so logic would say that it is unfinished
Of course it's unfinished. Any reasonable person would agree.

But we're talking about Firoz Kassam here.........
 

uptheus

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I think most people would agree that a (completed) football stadium has four sides. My mate worked at the Kassam when it was being built and seems to remember the foundations were put in for fourth stand so logic would say that it is unfinished
Yes, the foundations were put in!
 

Sarge

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I think most people would agree that a (completed) football stadium has four sides. My mate worked at the Kassam when it was being built and seems to remember the foundations were put in for fourth stand so logic would say that it is unfinished
wasnt there part of an undersoil heating system installed or (more likely) part installed when the breeze block pitch was originally being laid/ installed/ 'built'?
 

unification

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wasnt there part of an undersoil heating system installed or (more likely) part installed when the breeze block pitch was originally being laid/ installed/ 'built'?
IIRC but probably wrongly, it was constructed but never plumbed in as it would cost too much to use. Wasn’t there a fact-finding mission from a great European club in investigating it at one point? (Not Juventus as they were knocking around in the Robin Herd era).
 

Sarge

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IIRC but probably wrongly, it was constructed but never plumbed in as it would cost too much to use. Wasn’t there a fact-finding mission from a great European club in investigating it at one point? (Not Juventus as they were knocking around in the Robin Herd era).
Undersoil heating being kind of in place , but never plumbed in certainly rings a bell with me n my shonky memory
 

ZeroTheHero

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IIRC but probably wrongly, it was constructed but never plumbed in as it would cost too much to use. Wasn’t there a fact-finding mission from a great European club in investigating it at one point? (Not Juventus as they were knocking around in the Robin Herd era).
I always thought there were pipes laid under the pitch and the idea was to blow hot air through them. (I'll resist a quip about connecting them up to this forum on cold days! Or perhaps I won't...)
What state they are in now though is anyone's guess.
 

outsidethebox

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Excuse my ignorance but does this mean that OCC will appear on the list of shareholders for the company that owns and runs the stadium? Anyone got a copy of that list?
 

OUFCGav

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Excuse my ignorance but does this mean that OCC will appear on the list of shareholders for the company that owns and runs the stadium? Anyone got a copy of that list?
The company that runs the stadium is FIROKA (OXFORD UNITED STADIUM) LIMITED. That company is 100% owned by Firoka (Oxford) Ltd. That company is 100% owned by Firoka (London Park) Limited. Firoka (London Park) Limited is registered in Jersey and is the group company that runs the hotels, leisure complex and stadium in Oxford. No OCC in there.
 

Oxymoron

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IIRC, it was Robin Herd that downgraded the stadium to three stands, so FK took on incomplete 3-sided effort.....
 

Colin B

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IIRC, it was Robin Herd that downgraded the stadium to three stands, so FK took on incomplete 3-sided effort.....
No, you're wrong, it was Kassam that downgraded the stadium to three stands. 100%.

He also massively down specced the whole thing, including the Quadrangle (the conference centre). My company had a very large amount of high quality lighting on the project, which was all cut out by Kassam.
 

RyanioBirdio

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No, you're wrong, it was Kassam that downgraded the stadium to three stands. 100%.

He also massively down specced the whole thing, including the Quadrangle (the conference centre). My company had a very large amount of high quality lighting on the project, which was all cut out by Kassam.
That’s textbook OGB. Not a penny more than absolutely necessary to tick the boxes. That he sold the Manor for twice the amount it cost to ‘finish’ the wind tunnel, which he in turn has kept ownership of ever since, is simply scandalous. It may have been allowed to happen legally, but morally and ethically the guy stole our home. A stroke of business genius, no doubt, but utterly disgusting to boot.

As an aside, a company came in to meet his top brass many years ago boasting a new type of pic n mix bag. It looked exactly like any other bog standard white paper bag that such sweets are put in, only these ones weighed significantly more than the market standard, meaning people at the cinema would pay more for their sweets without ever realising. His people were so excited by it that they were physically rubbing their hands with glee. That really sums up the man and his organisations more than anything.
 

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