Fan’s View – Post Accrington thoughts

Photo courtesy of Steve Daniels
Photo courtesy of Steve Daniels
Article by Paul Beasley

POST ACCRINGTON THOUGHTS

It’s been necessary to call the bleep machine in to do some overtime working on this one. It couldn’t be any other way.

Well, what is there left to say? We are truly one of the laughing stocks of the football world. It was almost impossible to throw away a play off slot and a team with any real balls and bottle would have been in League One by now, but we’re Oxford United so we’ve instead won the crown of “F*** Up Champions of the World”.

Having said that, I’m proud to support OUFC and will never deny the fact, but the current bunch of incumbents that are MY FOOTBALL CLUB are giving me nothing to work with when I get into heated arguments with anyone taking the p***. B******s.
What do I mean by current bunch of incumbents? Chairman, coaches, players. And if we’re talking about the complete mix, the fans too.

Our performance against Accrington Stanley – yes who the f*** are they? – doesn’t merit anyone wasting their time bothering to analyse it so I won’t point my anger in that direction. Anyone who was at the game and is reading this that can be bothered, shut your eyes and think of words to describe what you witnessed. Ok, done that? Now do it again and think of the season as a whole. Yup, we’re suckers aren’t we? But we love our club, even if it is a love hate relationship.

And yes, I renewed my season ticket before kick- off. And my wife’s. (It wasn’t forced upon her)

But not my son’s. He missed quite a lot of games this season. He’s into other things. I’m sure he will never support any other team and I know he will come to quite a lot of games, but if we were the real deal I think the seat he has had his name on for a fair few years would still be his.

I really fear for our 2014/15 season ticket sales. I’ve heard louder choruses than ever before of “I’m not getting a season ticket”. Naturally a lot will relent as the yellow blood pumps through their hearts, but plenty won’t, I’m convinced. Why? Because they’ve already stopped coming to games. And who can blame them?

Right, on to the incumbents, but when it comes down to pointing the finger of blame for the current mess we’re in – and make no mistake it is a rather large mess – it’s not that simple. And finding a solution is massively challenging, if not impossible. There’s not an obvious one unless someone behind the scenes has a magic wand.

The Chairman (& the Finances)

As I’ve said before, I’ve largely supported and defend Ian Lenagan. It’s unfair to talk of his contribution, good and bad, without mentioning the finances and these are a massive, if not the key, ingredient when it comes to understanding where Oxford United are now, why we are where we are and where we are likely to be in the future. And it’s b****y horrendous.

We’ve got plenty of fans who either refuse to face reality or have not got the mental capacity to understand the basics. Once it gets to a certain point the extent of the millions becomes academic.

As a shareholder I’ve got the accounts to year ended 30 June 2012 in front of me. The net liabilities are £6m. (That’s SIX MILLION for anyone with their heads in the sand). I have not yet received accounts to year ended 30 June 2013 but I believe the loss was approx £1m which brings the net liabilities up to SEVEN MILLION. Given that our gates have been disappointing and we’ve had no cup run of note or sold any players, a highly conservative estimate of losses for the year to the end of 30 June 2014 has to be another million. So that’s EIGHT MILLION.

Ian Lenagan covers this and is not charging a penny in interest. So it does my head in when week after b****y week Radio Oxford give characters from cloud cuckoo land such as Dougie airtime to demand that our Chairman puts his hand in his pocket and invests in the club.

People need to realise that, and I quote from the 2012 accounts, Oxford United have “commitments under non-cancellable operating leases” which if I’ve read things correctly were £550k to be paid to Firoz Kassam for the ground and I believe there is an inbuilt inflationary increase.

Whilst this figure seems vastly excessive and it is obvious that Kassam is not doing us any favours it’s wrong to look on it as half a million pounds robbed from the club season after season. If Woodstock Partners Limited (Lenagan) had borrowed the £13m to buy the ground at say 5% (I’ve just plucked this figure out of the air) that equates to interest payments of £650k per annum. And then there are the running costs.

Oxford United’s Commercial Manager from February 2009 –March 2013 has recently posted on Facebook for all to see that the club will never move forward paying £500k every season to Mr Kassam without the conferencing side of the stadium to support it. “Mr Merry is to blame here for signing a lease agreement before reading it! No break clause anywhere to be seen! Without the football league money, fans and commercial partners the club would not be here.”

I have long suspected something like this. Taking this as fact points to Nick Merry being an absolute disaster for OUFC and we will continue to pay for his mistakes for many a long day. What I struggle to understand is, that given Ian Lenagan is such an astute business man, how he let Mr Merry do what Mr Merry did.

But for some people anyone who wasn’t Kassam was okay by them. Now we’ve even got people wanting Ian Lenagan out. That would mean someone or some group coming in with £8m to take on the debt before likely having to dip further into their pockets to cover future losses. Where are these people? Who in their right mind would purchase something for £8m when it basically has no monetary value at all?

Another accusation levelled at our Chairman, including by me, has been the length of time it took to replace Chris Wilder with Gary Waddock but I think I’ve written enough for now. I’ll cover the coaches /management and players and maybe even the fans next time. Possibly.

3 Responses to Fan’s View – Post Accrington thoughts

  • Ox4d Oldman says:

    A gloomy picture, Thin bloke. But like you I will probably renew….

    Totally agree your sentiments re: IL/WPL and the blinkered view of some "fans". But.. is administration, wind up and reformation, as the only way to exit Kassams souless ground, a possibility?

    Ox4d OM

  • Paul Carter says:

    Hi,
    just to let you know that your coverage during the season has been massively appreciated. I'm an older OUFC fan (from birth -born in Cowley) and my attendances have diminished as I've got older and moved around, away from Oxford. My era and constant attendance was from the David Sloane/ Tank etc. days. I was fortunate to be at the 86 Wembley success and still watch the video (yep still watch videos – as I said I'm an older OUIFC fan) every Christmas. Thanks to Rage Online I feel I'm up to date with current OUFC issues. A special thanks to Paul Beasley – your informative and honest appraisals are fantastic. So thanks again.
    Paul

    • George Dugdale says:

      Hi Paul,

      I will pass your kind words on to Paul.

      Thank you very much and I hope you continue to find us of some use now and again!

      George