With the new Lockdown rules in place today Chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth is asking all Oxford fans to look after each other and to stick together through this difficult time.
"First of all on behalf of the Board at Oxford United we want to wish all of our fans well as the UK goes into the new lockdown rules. Please look after each other and we hope everyone in the Oxford United family stays safe and well for what will no doubt be a very stressful few weeks.
We fully understand the wider situation across not just the UK but also the world and we have thought long and hard about whether to issue a statement that focuses purely on our football club while a global pandemic is happening, but we believe that fans will want to know how the new guidelines will affect a club that means so much to so many people.
Let us state at the very start, therefore, that Oxford United will survive and continue to thrive. The Board are fully committed to the football club. It is obvious that what is happening is going to affect all of our lives and businesses in some way, but that will never affect our passion for the club.
We have invested a huge amount of time as well as money into a team and club that is very close to our hearts and we want to reassure supporters that we are here for them in what is perhaps football’s most precarious position ever.
It may be necessary to explain as simply as possible how a League 1 football club usually operates. The Board will always help and support but the biggest source of income for any club at this level is season tickets. We thank everyone who bought one this season because it helped us through a very difficult period. The longer it goes without being able to welcome you back the tougher it becomes for all of us but we are working so hard to make sure we can get fans back at games as soon as it is safe to do so.
We hoped to have fans back in the ground by October- a proposed trial game was postponed at the last minute and while we respect the need for a lockdown it has given us a longer term problem than we hoped for. To simplify; If we had 4,000 season ticket and averaged 6,000 home fans last season then this season we are losing the income from those extra 2,000 ‘walk ups’ as well as away fans. With clubs like Sunderland and Portsmouth in the league plus an expected sell out crowd for a home match against Swindon then I hope fans can see the problems we have been facing in terms of cashflow and income.
It is the same throughout the club. Match sponsorship, match programmes, and particularly retail have been hit so hard. The Club Shop’s busiest day is always a matchday and now we will miss out even more because it needs to close for a month right before Christmas when fans traditionally buy home and away kits, Christmas jumpers and gifts.
The Training Ground was starting to thrive as well and was serving the wider community of Oxfordshire. The ‘cages’ for five-a-side football on the 3G pitches were booked every night until January but will now stand empty. The Women’s team were top of their league but now have to stop. All areas of the club have been affected and we want to thank our staff for working so hard and staying positive ever since the first Lockdown started.
We cannot feel sorry for ourselves when we know so many fans will have been hit just as hard but we feel it is the right time to ask fans to help us get through the next month. If you were planning on buying a home shirt for Christmas then you still can- just do it online. Buy your iFollow passes and watch the team home and away, download the programme online, and if you are a business then talk to us and see how we can help each other.
On the pitch we know results must improve but we also know that will only happen if we all stick together. That is true off the pitch too. Wherever you are, we ask you all to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
This is a time for Oxford to truly be united."