Two football clubs will have to wait on the sidelines for a further year due to delays in the construction of their new ground at the Barton Park development in Oxford.
An Oxford Mail article reports. Headington Amateurs, Oxford’s third biggest club (according to the OM) , and Barton United, have been losing money ever since they had to leave Barton Recreation Ground in April last year – home to their adult and junior teams for 25 years. The Phoenix Sports Association – the partnership of the two clubs – had been planning to be based at new ground for the start of the 2017/2018 season before club officials were told they would have to wait another year to make their home debut.
Headington Amateurs chairman Donald Light said the delays to the project were ‘disappointing’. Amateurs, who play in the Hellenic League, currently play at a temporary ground in Horspath, with Barton United and its juniors playing their fixtures at Bayards Hill Primary School in Waynflete Road. Mr Light said although Oxford City Council had helped with the move, the loss of the Barton Pavilion, which included a bar and function room, had meant the association had lost out financially, with a drop in funding of £7,000 due to the lack of kitchen facilities.
He added: “It’s very disappointing – it’s going to be a huge struggle and we hope to be compensated.”
Mr Light said leaving Barton meant the clubs did not benefit from as much local support as they usually get and income through football cards, Christmas parties and other events. “They [the city council] have helped us and supported us, they have done all they can. It’s getting back to Barton, it’s getting back home that’s the key to it.”
The controversial plans were passed last year for the new facilities which will feature a new turf sports pitch, multi-use games area and all-weather and floodlit pitch in the 885-home development west of Barton. One of the requirements to play at the Hellenic League standard, for which Headington Amateurs currently has special dispensation at its current ground, is a stand with seating for 100 people. A document by the Barton LLP in 2013 said there would have enough space to be able to ‘upgrade to Hellenic League standards’ yet this was not included in the most recent designs for the ground, which will become home to more than 10 senior and junior teams.
Speaking on behalf of Barton Oxford LLP, executive director Jackie Yates said the delays were unfortunate and down to ‘very difficult ground conditions’, as well as delays from utility companies and the weather. She said the council and developers Grosvenor recognised a second season off site caused ‘significant issues’, adding they wanted to ‘mitigate’ the impact and some financial support could be available.
Ms Yates said: “We expect marketing of homes to commence in July with first occupations around December this year.”
Barton United chairman Mick Beesley said discussions were ongoing between the clubs and the council.
City councillor Mike Rowley said: “The LLP has provided some funding for the clubs over the past year, and in addition I contributed £3,000 of my ward member budget – I suspect more will now be needed.”