The following update was sent to trust members on August 15th:
It’s been a busy week at OxVox and one that has seen some real positivity about the place. The signings have, of course, been a massive boost but almost as important has been the open nature of communication from the club in addressing some of the issues we faced. The youth and potential now in the squad really cements the transfer model that has served us so well and hopefully will push us on in this and coming seasons.
The week included a trip to the training facility with 20 of our members being shown around by staff at the ground followed by meetings with Tiger and Niall and the AGM (or GM as it was).
AGM and Meetings with the OUFC board
The AGM took place at the training ground and was hosted by club Finance Director Tim Davies. Tiger was in attendance with Zaki and Niall McWilliams. Tim opened up with a brief overview of the accounts and quickly went on to answer questions from the floor. What follows is an outline of what was discussed. We’ll give you a more detailed comment on the accounts soon, once we have gathered more information.
One of the first points Tim made was that the club, as we know, is not sustainable without significant financial support from Tiger and the directors. Additional funding to clear historic debts with regards to monies owed to other clubs and agents had now been provided. The monies owed to Darryl Eales are now, we understand, on scheduled payments that are currently up to date. The payment of charges that built up when the club went into arbitration with Firoka are ongoing and are also up to date. OxVox asked in the AGM if there was any way the club could seek to reclaim any of the monies now owed as the arbitration procedure started under a previous administration. We were told that would not be possible.
We also asked how the debt was being covered and who was liable. We were told that it was arranged via inter-company loans and that there were criteria in place that needed to be satisfied before the money could be reclaimed. One of the criteria was that the club reach the Premiership by 2025. We are contacting Tim Davies to clarify what portion of the debt that condition covers, so as of yet this is all unconfirmed, but OxVox are cautiously optimistic that such conditions are in place and hope to clarify them further in the coming weeks. We asked about the large reduction in revenue from 2017 to 2018 and were told that lower cup revenue, including from the Checkatrade trophy, was the main factor.
While the historic losses were substantial it was reassuring to know that overheads were being reduced and that the theme of the meeting was making our club progressive but sustainable. Tiger spoke passionately about the club and while warning that few directors would continue to fund losses indefinitely and many may have walked away in the face of underlying problems that had been uncovered, that they were there for the long run and that the club was being managed responsibly.
When questioned about the stadium Tiger was open about what needed to happen. Work continues to identify potential sites and move them forward but he also stressed that they were working on solutions to the issues at the Kassam Stadium and that to move that forward they need to benefit both Firoka and the club. When later discussing stadium sites we asked directly if a new stadium would require additional money generating opportunities to help fund both the club and to offset the cost from the investors and he agreed that would be the workable scenario. It does appear that the club is sensibly still pursuing all options on this important issue.
Throughout the recent meetings we have had with Tiger and the board their passion for the club has always been evident and while we continue to ask difficult questions of them and try to get a better picture of both the financial strategy and the plan to take us forward it seems clear to us that strides are being made and that communication with the fans has been improving steadily. As football supporters it is easy to be impatient and demanding of change but having stuck by Karl when many were calling for him to be replaced and having invested heavily in the training ground and academy and the young talent being signed to our club, it is perhaps time for us as fans to come together behind Tiger, the board, Karl and the players and push this amazing club forward.
Of course there will be set backs and we remain vigilant and fiercely protective of the safety of our club but a positive path is beginning to emerge, and it is right to acknowledge that progress.
The Training Ground visit
We were pleased to be able to offer 20 OxVox members a tour of the training ground on Friday and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Chris Williams acted as tour guide and Tiger made the effort, fresh from his flight in, to come around with us for the first half of the tour.
We were treated to a tour of the impressive facilities and an insight into the tactical analysis room from Dan Bond. Most were amazed by the detail and planning that goes into the preparation for a game. Dan Harris spoke passionately and articulately about the academy and Karl came out and offered to take us on a tour of the new pitches. His knowledge and involvement in even the smallest details of the club (including the length and type of grass required) was impressive but also his commitment to unify the club and work on the bigger picture issues. He and Tiger both agree that investment needs to be made not only on the pitch but into the infrastructure and we are aware of the efforts being made not only to improve the training ground but to secure the lease, that will then allow revenue to be generated.
One thing that is clear from spending time at the training ground is that there is a positive and respectful attitude around the whole place. Several players came up to speak to us and those that gave their time spoke very well.
All in all the visit was a huge success and for those who missed out we plan to hold another later in the season.
Voting has almost been concluded on the mural and thanks to well over a thousand fans for getting involved. We have also been in contact with many inside and outside the club to gauge opinion. Tiger, Zaki, Karl, Niall all gave their opinions and Zaki made a generous offer to help with any shortfall. While we continue to take donations to cover unforeseen expenses and to help with other visual initiatives around the stadium and to help pay for the blue plaque to commemorate the founding of the club at The Britannia Pub later this year, we have reached a point that we can ensure the mural project can go ahead. This was secured in part by a fantastically generous donation from Polythene UK. They are long-time supporters of the club and stepped forward again with £1,000 to push us over the line. Their support for OxVox and the club over the years has been immense and we thank them again for continuing to do so. We cannot thank them enough for this but it is the hundreds of supporters of the club that gave online, handed us money on match days and sent in donations that have made this all possible. Thank you every one of you.
We have tried to make this whole process as inclusive and representative as possible and voting has been open to everyone, members and non-members alike. When formulating plans we spoke to as many people as possible and the majority of people favoured pictures above anything else. We have tried to offer variety in those picture and style options but there is no way to please everyone.
The Ultras themselves constantly updated their banners over the years and while there is a temptation to just reprint what used to be there, many felt that would date quickly and not have the impact or visual appeal of the banners. We hope to achieve a permanent backdrop of colour and history of our club, to which the next generation of Ultras can add their banners someday. A huge amount of work has gone into making this project one that the fans can be proud of and we wanted to thank everyone involved for donating, voting and visiting us at the stall on Saturday to offer support. Thank you!
Thank you as always for taking the time to read this and it is with real excitement for what has been a really positive start to the season that I finish as always with COYY !
Paul Peros, Chair
MURAL DONATIONS: We welcome further donations through our crowdfunding page which can be found here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/