BICESTER clubs have less than a month to leave a beloved sports ground that has been the home of recreation in the town for decades.

Bicester Sports Association (BSA) and clubs at Oxford Road sports ground must move out of the site no later than May 31, before Bicester Village owners Value Retail take it over.

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Cheerleading group Bicester ECU trained at the facility for the past eight years and is the latest club to pack up and leave.

Kizzy Burt, who coaches around 50 youths, said the squad was sad to say farewell to what they called the site their 'happy place'.

She said: "My cheerleaders called it their second home, they spent almost half their week, every week here at their happy place. We were all extremely sad to say goodbye to what we have come to know as home.

Bicester Advertiser: Bicester ECU at Oxford Road sports ground

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"We know many other people in Bicester are feeling the emotion too. Bicester Rugby Union Football Club (BRUFC), the rifle club - we have all made many happy memories in the building at the site that was given to the sports people of Bicester and should never have been sold."

Bicester ECU is now temporarily based at Bicester Bowls Club, but Ms Burt is still trying to find somewhere permanent to train.

She added: "We hope to soon find our forever home, but are struggling to find anywhere that is suitable in size with high ceilings, storage for all of our equipment and affordable for our not-for-profit club. If there is any businesses that could help support these hard-working, determined, young athletes getting closer to finding our forever home, we would be eternally grateful."

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Bicester Village says it is unable to say what it plans to do with the site until it has possession at the beginning of June.

But the town council says it feels 'very strongly' that it should continue to be used by sports clubs, as does Conservative Cherwell District councillor Dan Sames.

Bicester Advertiser:

He said: "I will certainly be pushing for Value Retail to talk to the town and district councils with a view to making the land available for sport particularly in the short term, but also looking to the future and longer term plans.

"Going forward, the district council will be looking to expand sports facilities within the town and work with clubs and groups to cater for the different needs. We have already been working with the rugby club, for example, to explore different options for them.

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"On a personal note I will continue to work to enhance sports provision and will continue to oppose development on the Oxford Road ground especially without adequate alternatives in place."

Some clubs have been using BSA's Chesterton sports ground as well as Oxford Road, which is hoped to expand if the planning inspector gives it the green light.

Bicester Town Colts FC is one of them and says vandalism over the past 10 years such as broken windows, ripped gutters and broken padlocks has left the Oxford Road site unfit for purpose anyway.

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Chairman Chris Wales said: "The BSA have worked to repair the damage but within a couple of weeks of repair it's been damaged again, so it's throwing money down the drain due to a small minority of people that are determined to cause destruction. So to say that the site has deteriorated is correct, but it's not down to the BSA.

"As a football club, the Oxford Road site has been useful, especially over the last couple of months, but the amount of issues over the years caused by a small minority of people outweigh the benefits and whilst it's a shame to see any green area being developed, the site is now in the wrong place for continued sports usage."

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