Hotelier rescues Oxford

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THE LONDON hotelier Firoz Kassam yesterday stepped in to rescue Oxford United. Kassam has acquired the controlling shareholding in the First Division club from the former chairman, Robin Herd, following successful negotiations with Oxford City Council over proposals to complete United's half-built new stadium.

Oxford's new 15,000-seat stadium at Minchery Farm has remained derelict since work stopped two years ago following a dispute over payments..

Southampton have been given a pounds 3.5m grant by the Football Trust to help build their new stadium. The Premiership club have finally been given permission for a new 32,000-seat stadium at St Mary's, just outside the city centre.

Rangers have signed the United States captain, Claudio Reyna, in a pounds 2.25m deal. Rangers are paying the German club Wolfsburg pounds 250,000 compensation for the loss of the midfield player, who has been with them on loan this season. There is an additional cost of pounds 2m to Bayer Leverkusen, who held the 25-year-old's registration. However, both the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Football League were in discussions yesterday about whether the transfer was completed before the deadline at midnight on Wednesday.

The Tottenham defender Ramon Vega will miss the rest of the season after fracturing a bone in his foot in the League Cup final success at Wembley.

Macclesfield have denied any approach for their manager Sammy McIlroy from Nottingham Forest. McIlroy had been linked with a move to replace Ron Atkinson at the end of the season.

Aston Villa may apply to take part in the InterToto Cup after Uefa's decision to award a European spot to the FA Cup semi-finalists, Newcastle. Villa are 10 points adrift of the fourth spot which is needed to guarantee qualification via the Premier League. The Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, needs to inform Europe's governing body of Villa's interest by 7 April. Ellis said: "Because the start of the season is so early it is not too much different from going on tour. We had planned to do that between 17 and 24 July and could play in this competition instead."