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Chairman's Notes

Grant Ferguson ahead of Ipswich

21 January 2023

Chairman Grant Ferguson's notes from today's programme against Ipswich Town

What a great game we have in store this afternoon against an Ipswich side who remain many people’s favourites for promotion. There is undoubtedly pressure that comes with those expectations, but Ipswich have handled it well in the first half of the season, and as we saw on Boxing Day are a very good side. So are we.

OK, the win at Fleetwood on Saturday may not have been the most stylish but it was played in atrocious conditions. It was a real slog but that’s what you get at this stage of the season. On a difficult pitch the players had to contend with a gale force wind, rain, hail and falling temperatures, as well as going a goal down, but they found a way to win. This week we have had temperatures below zero across the county that provides significant challenges to effective preparation but overcoming those are part and parcel of making football such a great game. Unexpected hurdles appear throughout the season, but we get over them by evaluating, adapting, refocusing, sticking together and never, ever shying away from them.

I wish every game could be an occasion like our last home one against Arsenal. A capacity crowd, a fantastic atmosphere, and TV cameras here to showcase the potential of our club to a global audience. So many people have been in touch to say how well we did in putting on such a high-profile event, and I think as a club we can take pride in that. I was also proud of the team that for 60 minutes were the equal of the best team in the land. Was anyone else wondering at half time when the replay would be?

Potential is the key word here and having mentioned the hurdles we face as a football team, there is a major event coming up next week that is key for one that we face as a club. As you will have read, the County Council have proposed a potential site for a new home for Oxford United that we believe offers a bright future for the club, and that will go a long way to unlocking the potentially that we undoubtedly have. Time is running out as we must leave our current home in 2026, but on Tuesday we hope to take a major step forward when the council meet to decide if they will enter definitive discussions with us that could lead to the land being made available to the club to build a stadium on. We have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get to this stage, and we thank all those who have given us incredible support along the way; not just among our fanbase but people in and around Kidlington who recognise the positive impact the club can have on the local community.

Even with a favourable decision on Tuesday there is a long way and a lot of hard work required to plan, design, and build a new stadium and make it our home, but I said when I became Chairman, this is a pivotal time for the club, one where we must ensure a sustainable future for Oxford United at the heart of the outstanding city of Oxford and county of Oxfordshire. Nothing has changed my mind on that. The decision to be taken this week is critical as we pursue that goal, but if we can go into this important week off the back of a win over Ipswich today, that would be another big step in the right direction.

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