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Darryl Eales' Programme Notes for Luton

16 April 2016

United's chairman's notes from the Luton Town programme

Good afternoon and welcome to today's game, especially to supporters, players and officials from Luton Town.

It is over three weeks since our last home game and so much has happened!

Wembley takes pride of place. It was a wonderful day and my abiding memory is the 34,000 Oxford fans creating a sea of yellow and, once again, demonstrating your magnificent support.

The game was superb and our performance matched the occasion. Although we narrowly lost to a very good Barnsley side, we showed what an outstanding footballing side we are and I felt immensely proud to be associated with this fantastic club.

On a day of memories, it was also wonderful to see Lucas and Jacob, our two mascots, on the Wembley pitch - football does get some things right!

I would also like to say a massive thank you to all club staff who worked tirelessly in the run-up to Wembley and to our fantastic sponsors who help the club so much.

Turning to the bigger picture, we remain committed to building for the future and creating a viable platform for sustainable success.

I am delighted that Michael Appleton has committed himself to the club and signed a well-deserved new contract. Michael is an outstanding manager and leader as well as being a top individual. He is a pleasure to work with and cares deeply about the club. I look forward to the club continuing its positive progress under his stewardship.

Alongside this, we have strengthened the board with the appointments of Simon Kelner and Steve Dolton as non-executive directors, as well as Greig Box Turnbull joining as managing director. Every organisation develops through the quality of its people and I believe we are building a strong senior management team that will serve the club well.

Again, looking at the bigger picture, we are committed to building a passionate and friendly club which welcomes everyone.

It is therefore disappointing to have to discuss in my notes the topic of acceptable behaviour.

I have received too many emails from fans, new and old, referencing the use of aggressive language and abusive behaviour by a small minority of fans. For me, this type of behaviour has no place in football. The game is to be enjoyed based on passionate support and balanced partisanship. Emotion is an essential part of this cocktail but I would urge every supporter to take responsibility for their own behaviour and support the club in the right way, based on respect for all.

This weekend we are in the shortlist for family club of the year at the Football League awards. This is our direction of travel and I would ask all fans to support this approach.

With this in mind, starting today, we have the 'let your thumb point the finger' system. If you see unacceptable behaviour, then please text 07342 274742 and help us stamp this out.

Finally on this theme, it was hugely disappointing and frustrating to witness the smoke bombs at Crawley. This mindlessness brings the club into disrepute, with the possibility of financial penalties, as well as being completely inconsiderate to our other fans.

Smoke bombs are illegal at football grounds and those involved face criminal sanctions as well as the reality of being banned from attending games.

Your support is magnificent and does not require pyro or smoke bombs. Please, on behalf of all fans, stop this!

Back to more positive matters, it is a pleasure and privilege to welcome our guest of honour today: Maurice Edmunds. Maurice is probably known to everyone despite never courting the limelight and he has been a wonderful servant of the club for nearly 50 years.

On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank Maurice and wish him the very best in his retirement. And of course he is a most welcome guest at any game in the future.

Finally, we have five more cup finals in our quest for promotion. The spirit across the squad is exceptional and there is a steeliness of resolve to get the job done. As ever, you have a crucial role as the twelfth man and with all of us pulling together we can hopefully make this a real season to remember.

COYY!

Darryl



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