OxVox Performance Report – Presented at the 15th OxVox AGM Thursday 25th May 2017, The Masons Arms, Headington Quarry, Oxford.
[A downloadable pdf version of these notes may be found at
This report summarises the key activities of OxVox, the Oxford United Supporters Trust, for the financial year 1st October 2015 to 30th September 2016. The report also covers activities the Trust has undertaken since the end of the financial year to date.
2. Background – the last year
Following a year of transition in terms of committee members and the introduction of new members to the Board, it was decided to focus on specific activities, coupled with the ongoing aim of strengthening the Trusts relationship with OUFC, the OxVox membership, the wider fan base and other stakeholders – including Firoz Kassam, the officers of Oxford City Council and other key influencers. The following objectives were agreed & communicated to members:
1. Identify and deliver specific community projects that benefit fans, OUFC and the wider community
2. Continue to significantly grow membership numbers – to give the Trust, a stronger, more representative and credible voice. Target 750 for the year
3. Further develop a robust communication platform – including, Twitter, Facebook & Web Site, and ensure regular/timely communication to members, including meeting notes and any ‘announcements’.
4. Conduct regular and recorded meetings with the Board and senior officers of OUFC and continue to establish the position of a critical friend to the club, whilst taking an independent ‘fans first’ and community stance in all that we do.
5. Develop a strong & enthusiastic Committee – creating a professional, open style, great teamwork and with high levels of confidentiality when required. Allocate key responsibilities and actions to each committee member.
6. Develop regular communication with other OUFC fans groups – agree synergies and understand each others key areas of focus and expertise. Collaborating where appropriate and avoiding any duplication of effort.
7. Investigate the potential for a different stadium arrangement that would benefit OUFC and the wider community
8. Progress the opportunity for meaningful fan representation on the board of OUFC
In addition to the above, we agreed that always having a strong working relationship with the clubs owner, built around – regular communication, trust and mutual respect – would give OxVox the best opportunity to really understand and influence plans & decisions that might impact on the fans of OUFC.
Significant work has taken place on our member data base and website with initiatives to speed up and achieve timely communication. Although challenging at times, we’re pleased to confirm that all our systems are working well and are secure.
3. Your OxVox Committee
The committee as at the year end consisted of:
Jem Faulkner. Chair and Secretary
Simon Bradbury. Deputy Chair and Social Media
Terry Winter. Treasurer
Trevor Lambert. Membership and Data Base Management
Michael North. Yellow Army Link
Maurice Earp. Membership Administration
Graham Butler. TVP Police Liaison
Matt Cavill. Merchandising and Retail
Colin Barson. Stadium Research
Kate Longworth – resigned to take up the position of Head of Community at OUFC
Following this year’s nominations the committee will revert to its full compliment of 10 members. As always, there is also the opportunity for 2 co-opted members.
We are delighted to welcome – Ali Wolfe and Jemma Hayward to the full OxVox Committee.
In addition, Stewart Donald remains as a co-opted member and Kate Longworth rejoins OxVox as a co-opted member and will combine her role with that of Head of Community at OUFC.
Sadly, Terry Winter (Treasurer) will be stepping down from the full committee this year due to work commitments. Terry has however offered to continue to support the Treasury role and his offer has been gratefully received!
With one of our stated aims being to increase member numbers, we’re delighted to report that membership of the Trust has grown to 900 as at 1 st May 2017 (+318 versus last year!). For info, member numbers for the last 6 years are as follows.
Feb 2012 : 500 (375 adult/life members, 125 juniors)
Feb 2013: 450 (325, 125)
March 2014: 529 (405, 124)
March 2015: 490 (375, 115)
March 2016: 582 (469, 113)
May 2017: 900 (770, 130)
Growth in the last year has been 35%.
It was once again great to see a significant number of lapsed members, whose memberships had historically expired, deciding to re-join the Trust. During the year, some 40 members, who had joined the Trust through a six a side tournament, did not renew their membership, which makes last years net membership growth even more pleasing.
Membership fees were kept at ‘£10 for 3 years’ – something that had been introduced the previous year and the simple online PayPal mechanic continued to make joining the Trust an easy thing to do. In terms of overall membership, OxVox now sits in the top 15 Trusts in the country, where a membership fee is charged. This has enabled us to have more influence and involvement in national fan/football issues through our umbrella organisation – Supporters Direct.
Working with Corporate Partners featured during the year and once again businesses such as T3D Design, Denton Builders and Isinglass Consulting (who sponsored our new membership cards), continued to be wonderful supporters of the Trust Initiatives to grow membership with younger fans will be implemented this year. you to all members, new, old, and corporate, for supporting your Supporters Trust.
5. Member Communication
Following issues with our data base in the previous year, we focused on building better & more timely communication with members and moved away totally from having to rely solely on Social Media Forums as a way to send out meeting minutes and any announcements.
Meeting notes & other communications continue to be regularly sent directly to members’ inboxes & the feedback from members has been positive. Last year the Trust also received more than 200 emails from members – mostly supportive!!
An aim last year was to re-introduce members meetings and we held a successful session with more that 60 members in August. The meeting included a Q&A session with Darryl Eales and Greig Box Turnbull – which proved to be the only fans forum that the club held last year.
A continued and concerted effort to engage with members and the broader fan base saw us also significantly increase and drive our social media presence. The Trust now has over 2,700 active followers on Twitter (up by more than a 1,000 from last year!) and we also now have more than 900 Facebook friends! Yellows Forum continues to be an important means of communication and has been hugely helpful in engaging with members and the wider fan base.
As previously stated, your committee took the conscious decision to focus on the priorities stated earlier in this report and this meant, with one notable exception, that ‘fund raising’ again did not feature during the year.
This strategy has meant the Trust has predominately relied on income from membership fees and a £1,000 donation from programme sales by Michael North.
Given the significant increase in membership and therefore ‘fees’, the Trust was able to deal with all of its obligations and invest in projects. The Trust’s income during the financial year was £3,447 with an expenditure £2,734, resulting in an operating surplus of £713. The committee are satisfied with the Trusts financial performance and the annual accounts are now available for inspection by members. Cash at bank was £12,212 at the year end, up by £1,661 from last year.
Spend continues to be carefully managed and has been further reduced in areas such as, meetings, and the preparation of accounts and will continue to be tightly controlled this year. Any monies generated will only be used to support specific projects and only after consultation with members.
The largest community project from the year saw OxVox generate nearly £10,000 to purchase season tickets for youngsters ‘in care’ throughout Oxfordshire. The campaign was called ‘One of our Own’ and all the monies were raised through an online appeal with over 200 members/fans contributing, enabling the purchase of 75 season tickets and saw 100’s of kids getting the opportunity to see OUFC for the very first time. Thank you to OxVox member Liam Walker who brought the ‘One of our Own’ idea to us and also to the many, many members who made it happen! The initiative also generated very good revenue for the club.
The Trust were delighted to sponsor OUFC players and Chrissy Allen, as well as buying football kits for the (highly successful!) Blackbird Leys under 7’s team – a sponsorship and relationship we plan to continue.
Since the end of the financial year, there has been another significant spend, that being the sponsorship of tickets and coach travel to the JPT final at Wembley for 50 youngsters from Rose Hill Primary School. This was funded through the Trusts membership fees and did not require a fund raising campaign. Thank you to the OUFC Community Trust who supported this initiative.
Following discussions with The Yellow Army, it had been agreed that YA would lead on fund raising activities & focus on events that directly benefit fans and/or improve the match day experience. We believe this plan is a sensible approach and allowed the 2 organisations to focus on their respective areas of expertise and avoid any duplication of effort. We propose to continue the same approach again this year.
Clearly a level of revenue generation is important and the Trust will be seeking to engage with additional corporate partners as well as further increasing membership to support the financial needs of the Trust.
7. Communication with the Club
We believe the Trust has built strong working relationships with the clubs owner albeit that formal meetings have not featured as much this year – however a significant number of ad hoc and specific calls/communications have taken place. Some communication difficulties were experienced in early 2017 with media statements being made by OUFC and OxVox re stadium negotiations/progress. This is now resolved.
8. Activity Summary
OxVox is active in a whole host of areas and some of the key things we worked on (and are currently engaged with) are as follows:
(a) The Trust organised for the removal of The London Welsh signage from the stadium. Thank you to Denton Builders who performed this task free of charge (and made everyone smile!).
(b) The Trust have worked on building a working relationship with Firoz Kassam with the aim of trying to find a more equitable stadium arrangement for OUFC. This culminated with Firoz Kassam confirming publicly that he was working with OxVox with a view to a community purchase of the stadium. This work is ongoing, but has needed to be mindful of interest in OUFC and the stadium from a prospective purchaser of the club. All work has been done with the full knowledge of Darryl Eales
(c) Strong relationships have been built with Oxford City Council in relation to stadium opportunities and other potential initiatives around the stadium
(d) Fan representation on the board of OUFC was pursued with Darryl Eales and supported by Supporters Direct representatives who met with DE and OxVox. This work has stalled, but remains an aim.
(e) ‘One of our Own’ was a hugely successful campaign and saw 100’s of youngsters engage with OUFC for the first time.
(f) Blackbird Leys ‘under 7’s’ kit sponsorship – great season from the boys!
(g) The Trust has been regularly quoted in various local media during the year – mostly in relation to the stadium talks/progress and The EFL Trophy!
(h) JPT final 2016 tickets were presented to Jonathon Driscol who was confined to a care following serious medical conditions.
(i) OxVox were involved in advising OUFC on ticket pricing for last season, but have not been engaged with for this season.
(j) A regular and formal dialogue framework has been established with Thames Valley Police with the objective of airing fans concerns (and any compliments!).
(k) OxVox met with Ian Mixter – OUFC Safety Officer – in the wake of ‘Flag Gate’ and helped broker a more sensible approach to flags and fan participation in the match day experience. There is a lot more to do here and further meetings will take place ahead of next season.
(l) The only OUFC fans forum last year was the OxVox members meeting held in August
(m) The Trust lobbied hard with other Trusts around the country regarding the new EFL Trophy format that saw the introduction of Premiership under 23 teams to the completion. This work will continue and the Trust will take instruction from its members as the stance/action we should take with regard to this year’s competition.
(n) New Website and social media expansion
(o) A fixture board was introduced at the stadium – more were lobbied for in different locations around the County. Sponsorship opportunities?
(p) Committee meetings were held every 6 to 8 weeks and minutes sent to members within 7 days. Thank you to Bob Scholes and The Oxford City and County Bowls Club for use of their meeting room.
9. The Future …..
Following the formation of your new committee, we will consult with members as to the key priorities that members wish us to focus on over the next 12 months. Some areas for consideration include:
Stadium. Issues and opportunities
Current and future Club ownership – monitor and engage
EFL Trophy – what’s our stance? What, if any, action should we take?
Car parking and traffic management at the stadium.
Fans in the Boardroom. How might it work? Should we seek a shareholding?
Stewarding and policing of matches.
Community projects – ideas from members?
Membership growth & corporate partners. Grow membership to 1,000 plus!
Build the relationship with The Yellow Army and OUFC Community Trust – working together and decide who does what.
Members meetings. 2 per season and with ‘guest speakers’
Ticket pricing and ‘offers’.
Fixture Boards – at the stadium and around the County.
Much has been achieved, but, as ever, we still have lots to do! Increasing OxVox member participation in the Trust, with ideas and expertise, will help OxVox develop and become more effective, credible and representative. Ensuring a mutually beneficial and supportive working relationship with the club and its owner is vitally important, but our agreed position of being independent and a critical friend, with a fans first agenda, remains crucial and means that we are able, when necessary, to ask the more challenging questions. We’ll continue to work hard and listen to the views and any concerns of members and if required, will put those views directly to the club and any other relevant stakeholders. Your Supporters Trust will remain an independent voice and the stronger & more professional we can become, the more influential we can be in helping to shape the future for the benefit of OUFC, our amazing fans and the wider community.