Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Wembley Trip Booked and Stadium Boost

As far as weeks go, the last seven days are up there as one of the best in recent seasons for Oxford United.

The U’s progressed past Peterborough in the League One playoff semi-final to set up a tie at Wembley against Bolton and there was some concrete news regarding the club’s search for a site for a new stadium.

Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Wembley Confirmed and Stadium Boost

Oxford Set for Wembley Trip

On Wednesday, Oxford saw off Peterborough to set up a mouthwatering League One playoff final against Bolton at Wembley.

The game ended 1-1, with the U’s progressing 2-1 on aggregate following their narrow win at Grenoble Road.

Posh took a deserved lead on the night but Cameron Brannagan calmly converted from the spot just before half time.

Des Buckingham’s side managed the game extremely well under difficult circumstances and held on to send his hometown club to the final.

‘It’s a Very, Very Special Moment’

Speaking on the pitch after the victory, Buckingham said: “It’s fantastic for the football club and everyone associated with it, to make Wembley and put ourselves within one game of making the Championship.

“I’m delighted, that’s all I can say. I’m so proud of the playing group and everyone associated with our club right now. It’s a very, very special moment.

“We knew they’d throw a lot at us, but I didn’t realise they’d throw the kitchen sink as well. We stood up and I thought the players showed a really good desire to defend what we had.

“We knew coming here was going to be tough. They’re a very good team and they’ve got some wonderful players, and they were the highest goalscorers in the league for a reason.

“We knew we’d have to weather a storm, but I don’t think there was a plan to weather it for quite as long as we did, but I’m delighted with the work rate and desire, and with how much that means to the playing group and us as a staff group, to do what we’ve just done.

“I think we’ve had a lot go against us since I walked into the club. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and certainly, a lot go against us.

“Tonight we had one off the line and Jamie Cumming made a really important save, and they had a couple of moments, but we’ve had moments throughout the season go our way as well, so they balance out.”

He added: “We’ll enjoy it. It’s a special moment for everyone. We’ve spent so much time together.

“For me, the aim was promotion for this playing group. We’re one game away from that now.

“We’ll enjoy the moment because people have worked so hard to get here, but we will refocus.

“We’ll have everyone in on Friday to start getting ready for what will be a very exciting week leading into Wembley.”

Club Confirm Lease for Site of New Stadium

The good news continued on Friday when the club announced they had signed a legally binding lease option with Oxfordshire County Council for the land on which they hope to build a new stadium.

A statement read:‘ “Oxford United are delighted to confirm it has signed a legally binding lease option with Oxfordshire County Council for land known as The Triangle, as well as completing a community collaboration agreement.

“It follows the news last month that heads of terms had been agreed following detailed negotiations.

“The completion of these contracts represents a significant step forward in securing Oxford United a long-term home in the county and the future of the 131-year-old football club.

“Earlier this year an application was submitted to build a new, modern, eco-friendly 16,000-capacity stadium. The club will be able to fully exercise the 250-year lease once planning permission has been obtained from Cherwell District Council for the development.

“The lease option agreement includes provisions to ensure Oxford United’s right to play at the stadium is secured, along with safeguards on rent and use of facilities.

“The community collaboration agreement formalises the club’s commitment to social, environmental and economic benefits for the community, as outlined in the seven strategic priorities set by the council.

“The strategic priorities include improving public transport and achieving a net-zero development. Oxford United has also committed to the production of a Net Zero Plan in line with the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.

Grant Ferguson, Chairman of Oxford United, said: “This is a major step forward in our exciting stadium development plans and for the long-term sustainability of the club.

“On behalf of the club, I’d like to extend a thank you to our stadium project team, to all our supporters and to Oxfordshire County Council.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with key stakeholders to bring our vision to reality.”

Jon Clarke, Development Director, added: “From the outset, the club has sought to create a stadium and venue that protects the long-term future of Oxford United and delivers significant benefits to the wider community.

“The signing of this lease option is a major milestone and allows us to fully focus on obtaining planning. The project team has worked tirelessly for over three years to get us to this point – we can now move forward with certainty and confidence knowing we have secured the land deal.”

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