The Oxford United Trust have just released the following press statement outlining their concerns regarding their clubs direction.
Club finances: OxVox calls for debate, and issues rallying cry to fans and local business
At the start of its 3rd season of non-league football, Oxford United faces a serious financial challenge. The club posted a massive£653k trading loss in 2006-7. The financial results for the year2007-8, which ended on 30 June 2008, may be even worse, though they are unlikely to be announced for some time. The loss of external funding for youth development, which means that the club has to raise the entire cost of its youth programme, will be an additional burden in the coming year. Yet there has been no public debate of the situation beyond a short question and answer session at the club's AGM, and equally brief comments about the loss of youth development funding. To date, independent supporters trust OxVox's efforts to discuss these problems with the club in more detail, on behalf of supporters, have met with silence.
OxVox is extremely concerned about the position.
Trust Chair Trevor Lambert says:
"Fans need to be aware of the enormous challenges. These are difficult times for all clubs as fans' pockets and commercial sponsorship are hit by the economic slowdown. But United have additional problems including loss of revenue associated with continuing non-league status, substantial stadium rent, and low match-day revenue due to the restrictive stadium license negotiated with Firoka. It is time for realism and for these fundamental issues to be addressed.
"In our view the club's investor and board must break their silence and communicate leadership if the club is to survive. For our part we wish to meet Ian Lenagan and Nick Merry, to understand their analysis of the club's difficult situation, and to discuss their plans. We have asked for the meeting to take place in early September. The tough questions about the future need to be faced together. How can the debt be managed, and reduced? Is there any realistic prospect of buying the stadium, and what is preventing a deal? The club needs all the help it can get to deal with these issues, which need to be addressed with clarity rather than bland reassurances.
"There has been too little dialogue between the club and its supporters and the local business community. We need fresh thinking to ensure that everyone can contribute to the viability of the football club. Oxford needs its professional football club and everyone needs to rally round to protect this community asset."
On a practical level, the trust is looking at ways of raising some additional finance with the aim of investing in the club. Our commercial team of Tim Rosser, Neil Carter and Simon Bradbury have setup a Corporate Partner scheme as a first step. Speaking for the team, Simon Bradbury adds:
And if you are a fan who hasn't joined OxVox yet, we ask you to do so today. Join via the OxVox website www.oxvox.org.ukor by post to 27 Foster Road, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 1YN, or see us around the ground on a match day. We would like to see another surge of new members and we call on all supporters to join the trust and to help us with your ideas and support. The membership fee is £15 for 3 years or£10 for a single year.
OxVox is committed to working for the success of Oxford United. We hope that the club will become successful under Nick Merry and Ian Lenagan, but we urge them to engage in a full debate about the future and the part that supporters can play.