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Chairman looking for Unity

15 December 2016

Chairman releases statement on flag and banners

Oxford United Chairman Darryl Eales writes: 

"A number of fans have contacted me directly asking me for my opinion on the current dispute about flags. I have tried not to comment as I really am struggling to know what the issue is and why it has escalated over the past week.

As every fan knows, I hope, I am passionate about fan participation as the fans are the club. In particular, encouraging flags and banners is something I support and I am also in favour of the introduction of safe standing. 

I also am fully behind the need for grounds to be safe for all supporters and ensuring the club complies with relevant health and safety legislation or regulations. I would say this is not an especially controversial view.

On the specifics, as far as I am aware, there has been no change in the policy surround the flags and banners at the ground. The only grey area is the size of flags which are permitted and, for flags over a certain size, when they can be waved.

I have a good relationship with Neil Holdstock and have recently met with the new Safety Officer, Ian Mixter. Based on this, I do not believe there is any difference in the approach to ground safety and interpretation of the rules surrounding flags and banners. 

This seems to me to be an issue which can easily resolved if everyone adopts a conciliatory position.

We are all on the same team and everyone is working hard to bring success to the club. 

I want to resolve this and, to this end, I have tried to contact the "Ultras" but so far they have not responded to my call.

I will be in the pub before Bury and am doing a radio phone in next week with Jerome Sale and the BBC. I am, as I hope has always been the case, open and happy to answer questions. My interest is simply to do the best I can for Oxford United.

All I would ask is for common sense to prevail and we simply need to find the right balance between actively encouraging flags and ensuring the stadium is safe. 

The way to do this is through constructive discussion and I very much hope that everyone shares this view.

Most of all, I think there is much to be positive about around the club - we are in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, in the last 16 of the Checkatrade trophy and we are handily placed in the league. We have young and highly talented squad which is improving with every game and we can look forward with confidence and excitement.

Let's all come together and get behind the team.

With festive best wishes to everyone 


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