Oxford United's CEO, Tim Williams, wrote the following notes for the programme for the Sky Bet League One game against Derby County:
A warm welcome to all our supporters, to the Derby County team and to their fans who have made the journey to be with us for this evening’s match.
I would like to start by wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas. Whichever holiday you celebrate around this time of year, I hope it has been a good one.
I am writing these notes following our Boxing Day win over Cambridge United where over 10,000 of you came and supported the team to a much-needed win thanks to Ciaron’s very late header. And it made me realise just what an incredible game football is. There are few other sports in the world that generate the excitement and the emotion of those 90 minutes of football, and it is for that reason that we need to all act to protect the English game.
For all the talk of breakaway leagues, the Champions League and the dominance of the English Premier League, we must never ignore the fact that the richest level of the game is, and always will be, dependent on the clubs in the lower leagues that support it.
The role of the teams you are seeing play today has never been more important, be that via Academy development of future professionals in EPPP programmes, through to the development centres for our girls and women to support the growth and success of the women’s game, right up to clubs like ours giving players such as James Beadle and Fin Stevens much needed regular football to support their growth on loan from their Premier League parent clubs. It is for these reasons that the football pyramid needs to be protected, and I can promise you that I will use my voice both in government and the Football League to make sure clubs like Oxford United are listened to at a national level.
Football is so much more though than just what happens on the pitch. The revenues, wages and transfer fees paid by the richest clubs in the world are many, many multiples of the sums that are circulating the lower league clubs, but the contribution we make is priceless. To communities, families, charities, never mind supporting the football pyramid, what we mean and what we should mean to the city of Oxford and the county of Oxfordshire is just as great as what much larger clubs mean to their much larger cities.
What I think separates us is contact, engagement and accessibility. Every time I come to a game, I see players interacting with supporters outside of the ground, I see Des signing autographs before and after games. I am proud of the relationship that we have with our supporters and the club are constantly looking at ways to improve this. We’ve already made great strides with the quality and volume of matchday activations we’ve delivered, and early in the new year we’ll be in a position to announce details of our new fan engagement strategy.
As the year draws to a close, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. All that’s left for me to say is that as the years go by so fast, I hope the next beats the last…
You can read the full programme online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc