Football: Hotel owner steps in to save Oxford

THE LONDON hotelier Firoz Kassam yesterday stepped in to rescue First Division Oxford United.

Kassam has acquired the controlling shareholding in the club from the former chairman Robin Herd following successful negotiations with Oxford City Council over proposals to complete United's half-built new stadium.

The club said in statement: "Mr Kassam is delighted with the progress that has been made with Oxford City Council regarding the proposed development of the Minchery Farm site."

Oxford's new 15,000-seater stadium has remained derelict since work stopped two years ago following a dispute over payments. The Football League chief executive Richard Scudamore said he was delighted that Oxford had been saved.

Rangers have signed the United States captain, Claudio Reyna, in a pounds 2.25m deal, but face an anxious wait to discover when he can play for them. The Glasgow club agreed terms with two clubs for Reyna in a complicated deal. They 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 fellow Germans Bayer Leverkusen, who held the 25-year-old's registration. They will be paid the money shortly. 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.

They are paying particular attention to the situation because of the administration error surrounding Jorge Cadete's move to Celtic two years ago which led to the departure of the SFA secretary, Jim Farry.

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

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

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.

Brown's dilemma, page 28