Oxford United have appointed Ian Mixter as interim safety officer.
Ian, who started his interim role a week ago, was previously Deputy Safety Officer and he will continue to be supported by Roger Hiscock and John Mulligan as senior members of the safety team. The club would like to thank Neil Holdstock for his contribution to and support of the club and wish him well for the future.
Ian, who is a lifelong football fan, shares the club’s vision of being a welcoming, family friendly environment, which can be enjoyed by all supporters.
The club recognises that some fans have expressed concerns about stewarding and one of Ian's priorities is to ensure our stewarding operates to the highest standards. To this end, the club is committed to improving the ratio of club stewards to agency, which has been reducing over recent years.
Some supporters will have noticed some operational changes were introduced earlier in the season, namely a security fence behind the North Stand and soft ticket checks in front of turnstiles.
The fence was introduced following some incidents of disorder this season and has subsequently enabled the club to both reduce the risk of disorder and in turn also reduce the number of police officers required on match-day. This is expected to save the club a five figure sum over the course of a season
Soft ticket checks were introduced in the summer, after the club became aware of some adults attempting to enter the stadium with junior tickets. This measure is saving the club a substantial amount of money each game.
The club’s policy in relation to flags has not changed. Banners can be displayed in agreed locations, large wavers on telescopic poles can be waved before kick-off, at half time, post-match and in celebration of a goal and smaller flags on sticks can be waved at anytime.
Most importantly, Ian and the club will endeavour to meet with supporter groups in a regular basis to discuss how the atmosphere at games can be enhanced without compromising on safety.
Speaking to www.oufc.co.uk, Ian, said: “When the club asked me to step in and help, I couldn’t say no as I’ve enjoyed working here within the stadium environment at the club. We are committed to making the stadium a safe and happy place for supporters to enjoy watching football
“The focus is helping in the short term, so it is now on preparing for the games over the festive period.
“Following a review of the security fence behind the North Stand, we have made the decision to only use it for games where there is an increased risk from home & away supporters mixing immediately after the final whistle
“In terms of flags, as a football club we are very supportive of colour and atmosphere and welcome it. This does need to be balanced with the safety of all supporters and legislation and for clarity that means large flags on telescopic poles can only be waved during matches in celebration of a goal. The club has worked with fans’ groups for a long time on match day experience and nothing has changed in this respect and we look forward to continuing to work together
“On the whole, our supporters are fantastic and we will try to explain as much as possible why certain measures are in place. We believe this is a great place to watch football.”
United Chairman, Darryl Eales, said:
“I think most fans know I am passionate about the atmosphere and believe our fans are second to none.
"Alongside this, we are committed to ensuring match-days are friendly and safe for everybody and that the football club is fully compliant with UK legislation.
"We are grateful to Ian for stepping into his new role and I would like to encourage everyone to support him and wish him well for the wider good of the club
"We will also meet, in joint forum, fans groups in the New Year to find ways in which we can all work more closely together"