Read Darryl Eales' notes in the Cambridge match magazineGood afternoon and welcome to our final home game of the season as we host Cambridge United. We are two cities united by a rich history and I would like to extend a warm welcome to their supporters, players and officials.
As most will recall, the game at Cambridge earlier in the season was very one-sided, live on TV, and hopefully this afternoon will provide an opportunity to set the record straight!
On a far wider scale, today we are remembering the 30th anniversary of the Bradford Fire Disaster. I can still recall seeing those tragic events on TV back in 1985. It happened on a day when Oxford United celebrated promotion and I am sure you will join us in a minute’s silence before today’s game.
Now is not the appropriate time to make detailed comment on the season overall as we are part way through an in-depth and forensic review to provide an objective and hard-nosed assessment. Suffice to say, we are looking for significant improvement and the hard work starts immediately, especially in continuing to strengthen the squad early in the close season, setting up a strong pre-season programme and then hitting the ground running as we start the league campaign in August.
One significant area of debate has been the state of the pitch. Without doubt, this has had some impact on our inconsistent home form and it is essential that the playing surface is dramatically improved for the start of next season. Rest assured, this is a priority.
Off the pitch, there is a huge amount of hard work behind the scenes to improve our infrastructure. This has necessitated a certain degree of change but I hope and expect that we will begin to gain stability throughout the club and the benefits will be seen from next season and beyond. I am especially delighted that we will shortly be announcing a new Community Director and Community Trust Operations Director which will really accelerate our desire to make a real difference in the community. We have also strengthened the commercial and marketing team with the intention of having more proactive links with both fans and the business community. There is still much to do but I do believe we are making good progress.
Details of season tickets will be coming out soon. We have consulted with fans and given pricing considerable thought, with attracting young supporters and rewarding our existing season ticket holders for their loyalty both high on the agenda. Season ticket holders are the bedrock of the club - please renew and encourage as many friends and family as you can to join you.
In closing, I would like to say a few specific thank yous, while in general thanking everyone around the club for their support. Specifically, thank you to Black n Rounds, Isinglass, PSI and Cox Wokingham for their shirt sponsorships and to all sponsors for their wonderful support. Thank you to Mark Ashton and all of the backroom staff and volunteers for their unstinting hard work and belief in what we are looking to build, and to Michael Appleton, his staff, and the players for the commitment, dedication and togetherness throughout a long season which will hopefully see us carry some real momentum into the next campaign.
The biggest thank you though is reserved for the fans. I was told when I arrived last summer that the Oxford fans were among the most loyal and loudest in the league but you have surpassed all expectations. Home and away, you are the inspiration for us to bring the success that you deserve. This is your club, we will do our very best to get it right for you next time around.
I wish everyone a good summer break and hope that we can sign off the season in style and build on our six-game unbeaten run.