Following the Government’s announcement of their roadmap to the lifting of Lockdown in England we asked Chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth how the next few months might shape up for the U’s
“First of all I hope that all of the Oxford fans are safe and well and that this news has lifted everyone’s spirits” he told us from his home in Thailand where he has spent Lockdown with his family. "Here in Thailand we are also starting to move out of Lockdown. Last night was the first time restaurants could sell alcohol although I didn't go because I was watching the Portsmouth game on iFollow. That had priority!
"Everyone knows I am so desperate to come back to Oxford and see everyone and I hope we are moving towards that now. At the moment I would have to spend 14 days in isolation when I came back to Thailand so I will have to be just a little more patient before I can get to a game.
“I think everyone needs something to look forward to and it sounds like there are clear dates set in England now. Provided everything goes to plan then we are much closer to the end than the beginning.
“Fans will want to know what that means for their football club so I would like to try and bring everyone up to date, although the one thing we learned this year is that we have to be flexible and cannot plan too far ahead.
“Everyone at the club has worked so hard over the last twelve months. We have followed the rules and protocols to the letter, we have tried our best to help staff, players and of course the fans and I think we should be so proud of everything we have done since this terrible pandemic first began.
“Now we have to make sure that we come out of Lockdown the same way: following the rules and able to hold our heads high and say “we did the right things”
“It sounds, at the moment, as though May 17th is the date for fans to return to games. I think even that date presents problems: the play-offs are around that date and demand will be huge, whichever clubs are involved. Somebody told me that the 17th is in the middle so you could have one play-off with no fans and the other with supporters in the ground!
“That maybe shows you the scale of the problems we are now going to face. Our message has been consistent all year. We want our fans back at the games as quickly as we can, that is our dream, but only when it is safe for everyone.
"There were two games when we had fans inside the Kassam Stadium and they were amazing. We looked at those games, saw how the logistics worked and we have been able to keep working behind the scenes to make plans and get ready for the day when we can play in front of our fans again.
“At the moment it seems unlikely that we will have fans at games this season. If that is right then the big thing now is to make sure that our season ticket holders are looked after. They have been so loyal and I am sure that, like me, they have enjoyed watching the team on iFollow but football is not football without our fans.
“We have written so many plans and strategies over the last twelve months, and then most of them had to be ripped up! But we have a framework and now we have a potential timeline so we have once again started thorough planning for the return of fans.
"I believe we have been open and honest all the way through and we will always be that. All we ask is for just a little more patience as we get to the end of Lockdown. We have plans, we are talking about them all the time, and once we get the green light and official confirmation of what we can and cannot do then we know we will be ready to welcome people back.
“Meanwhile, keep watching on iFollow, keep supporting the club and backing the team and most importantly stay safe and look after each other.”