FREE fitness classes, football sessions for the homeless and every school football final in the city.

These were among the commitments made by Oxford United today as they finally celebrated signing a 23-year deal to run their own training ground.

The League One club have spent months negotiating to take over the lease at Oxford Sports Park, and announced it was definitely going ahead on October 2, but the deal then got stymied by the last legal wrangling.

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This afternoon, as United geared up to face Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium, players, managers and club owner Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth finally held a small party at the training ground to celebrate.

Mr Thanakarnjanasuth said: “It is a massive day for Oxford United.

“Tonight we take on Manchester City in the quarter final of the Carabao Cup but just as importantly, today we celebrate having a training ground which will be the cornerstone of our club for many years to come.

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“I want to thank the city council for their help and also thank the many people who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this day possible.

"We are so proud to be part of the community here in Oxford and happy to finally have a permanent training base not just for the first team but for everyone.”

The land at Oxford Sports Park, next to the BMW plant in Cowley, is owned by Oxford City Council.

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Since 2017 the council has leased the site to Fusion Lifestyle, which runs most of the council's leisure centres as well as Hinksey Outdoor Swimming Pool.

Part of that deal was to let Oxford United train there, but in October United announced that they would take over the whole site.

That now means that the football club will also have to take on all the community commitments which come with the site – including the upkeep of cricket facilities for local clubs.

It has also said 3G pitches ‘will be available for hire’.

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United’s deal on the site now includes the following commitments:

• Free nutrition classes, fitness classes for vulnerable groups and mental health workshops

• Literacy/ numeracy classes with combined training sessions led by their players

• Football sessions for people experiencing homelessness

• All school football finals are held at the grounds every year, organised and run by Oxford United Football Club as well as two football festivals and a kwik cricket festival

• access to the grounds for community use, with the exception of Sunday mornings when the Youth Academy runs.

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A requirement of the contract and funding that OUFC receives from the English Football League (EFL) is that there are no other users on site at the same time.

Local cricketers and other sports clubs will now be eager to see how the community commitments will work for them.

Councillor Linda Smith said she looked forward to seeing how the club’s work with the community grows.