4 July 2014
A statement from Oxford United Chairman, Ian Lenagan:
There has been much speculation over the past few weeks that the Lenagan family was selling its shares in Oxford United and moving on. That is not the case. What we have been doing is planning ahead for the next stage of development of Oxford United.
The past two years since I took over as Chairman on 13th July 2012 have seen many advances including paying off of debts, financial stabilisation, recruitment and bedding in of a highly capable Sales and Marketing team, the real implementation of a Young Player Development strategy, a better match-day experience and involvement of fans generally, a good relationship with the Supporters Trust, OxVox, and the development of a much better relationship with Firoz Kassam as owner of the Stadium & Conference Centre.
The Board of Directors was convinced that an excellent base had been firmly established for the future success of the Club.
However, the disappointment of not achieving the Play-Offs at the end of last Season was an indication that even greater investment was perhaps needed to get up into League 1.
Of even more importance however was the growing certainty that – with the radical changes likely in the Planning Landscape for Oxford in the next 12 months and the opportunity which that could present to Oxford United finally to own its own Stadium – it was vital at this crucial time to plan ambitiously to take advantage of these opportunities or to lose them.
That meant a further significant investment in Financial and Management terms;
Financially to fund increased running cost and capital investment in a stadium project and, in Management terms, to both run the Club on a day-to-day basis whilst also devoting dedicated and experienced resource exclusively to the Stadium Project.
It was decided that this was the time to bring additional financial and management resources into the Club alongside the Lenagan family in order to ensure this one-time opportunity would not be missed.
Consequently, I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new investor and shareholder in Oxford United, Darryl Eales, to stand alongside the Lenagan Family bringing significant extra financial investment and management skills into Oxford United.
Darryl is a football fan and a very successful businessman with, of importance, significant commercial experience. Until May of this year Darryl was CEO of LDC, the private equity part of Lloyds Banking Group, stepping down following 11 years in the role to concentrate on his own private interests including, particularly, Oxford United.
Darryl and I share the same personal and business style and have an identical approach to the strategies required for the ongoing success of Oxford United. We also have precisely the same ambitions for the Club.
Discussions have been in process between the parties for over 12 months but accelerated
2 months ago when the Stadium development opportunities became time-critical.
Each of the Lenagan Family and Darryl Eales now has more than 30% of the shares of Oxford United Ltd but both with less than 50%.
The Football League has indicated formally no objection to the new shareholdings and acceptability of all persons under the Owners and Directors Test and hence this announcement is unconditional.
A new Board of Directors is now in place with Darryl taking up the position of Chairman, Mark Ashton appointed as Chief Executive taking over responsibility for day-to-day management of the Board’s existing strategy and Ian Lenagan taking Board responsibility for the Stadium Development project.
My two sons Simon and Adrian Lenagan step down from the Board to concentrate on their own businesses having spent thousands of unpaid hours working on behalf of Oxford United. The Board thanks them formally for their contributions to the Club.
A change in personnel as a consequence of this new shareholding and management structure is the replacement of Gary Waddock by Michael Appleton since Mark Ashton wishes to have with him his own person as Head Coach, having worked with Michael Appleton previously.
We would like to thank Gary for his effort and contribution through the past months on behalf of Oxford United and to make it clear that this change does not in any way reflect on his performance or capability as Head Coach.
I believe strongly that this new shareholding structure with two major investors now involved is an an even stronger position for Oxford United than before and bodes well for the Club’s future ambitions. I look forward to the start of the new season and the opportunity personally on behalf of the new Board to focus on the Stadium Development opportunity.