Oxford United chief sets cash targets

Bicester Advertiser: United fans get behind the team during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge. Attendances are down on last year, but chairman Ian Lenagan hopes gates will improve if the U’s continue their fine run United fans get behind the team during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge. Attendances are down on last year, but chairman Ian Lenagan hopes gates will improve if the U’s continue their fine run

Ian Lenagan is upbeat about Oxford United’s financial situation despite forecasting the club will lose £400,000 in the latest accounts.

Although at first glance it appears alarming, it marks a big step forward from the £1m debt suffered in the previous figures.

The chairman is optimistic the trend will continue to the point where United return to profit sooner rather than later.

He said: “My target is to get it down to about £400,000 for the year we are in at the moment, compared with the £1m we lost last year. We are on target to do that.

“The target next year, particularly if we get up into League One, is to get it down to £100,000-150,000 or maybe even a profit to get back to where we were.”

The U’s chief’s confidence is boosted by a similar pattern at his other club, top rugby league outfit Wigan Warriors.

He said: “We are comfortable with it, we can afford it, but it dispirits us to have to keep propping the club up financially.

“It was exactly the same at Wigan. When I took over it was a £1m loss. It took us three years to get it down and we have been in profit for three years now.”

United’s coffers have been boosted in the last fortnight by an FA Cup run which has netted £150,000 in prize- money and television revenue.

The club also believe there is potential to bring in much more investment from sponsorship than is the case at the moment.

Last month, they hosted representatives from businesses across the county interested in partnerships, which it is hoped will yield a significant benefit for next season.

The marketing department has been revamped in the last few months and one project is bearing fruit.

Yesterday, United announced 8,000 tickets had been sold for ‘The Big Match’ at home to Plymouth Argyle on Boxing Day.

While short of a sell-out, with more than a week to go it is already the biggest gate of the season.

Attendances will play a big part in the long-term financial stability of United.

With average league gates of 5,758, they are about 200 lower than last term, despite being top of Sky Bet League Two for much of the season.

Lenagan is hopeful more results and performances like the 2-1 win against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday will make a difference, but says it is still above what was budgeted.

He added: “We are not disappointed with the attendances. We want more, of course we do, but attendances are dependent on how much people can afford and whether they feel a bond with the club.

“Every time we win a game that bond gets better and gradually if we continue to win, the attendances will come back.”

Comments (11)

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10:01am Tue 17 Dec 13

GRB says...

I'm sick and tired of saying it but the club need to get some type of retail outlet in the city centre, particularly at this time of year. It is a pain to have to travel up to the stadium to buy any club merchandise. The club shop is also closed at weekends when the team are away which makes it difficult to get to the shop if you're pushed for time on a match day. This time of year I'm certain the club would do decent trade in town.
I'm sick and tired of saying it but the club need to get some type of retail outlet in the city centre, particularly at this time of year. It is a pain to have to travel up to the stadium to buy any club merchandise. The club shop is also closed at weekends when the team are away which makes it difficult to get to the shop if you're pushed for time on a match day. This time of year I'm certain the club would do decent trade in town. GRB

10:42am Tue 17 Dec 13

Dolly76 says...

Even if it was a temporary "pop-up" shop for the Christmas period I'm sure it would do well.
Even if it was a temporary "pop-up" shop for the Christmas period I'm sure it would do well. Dolly76

11:00am Tue 17 Dec 13

London_Ox says...

What the club should be really doing is building relationships with all the main sports retailers in the supply of merchandise and/or a modest floorspace area for Oxford Utd branding in the city centre. We need to tie up more links and partnerships with the local business community like a lot of other clubs already have.
What the club should be really doing is building relationships with all the main sports retailers in the supply of merchandise and/or a modest floorspace area for Oxford Utd branding in the city centre. We need to tie up more links and partnerships with the local business community like a lot of other clubs already have. London_Ox

12:16pm Tue 17 Dec 13

camden says...

I personally would like to see the club pursue a tie up deal with a nominated charity. The club would then use the charity outlets to merchandise their products in return for a percentage donation. The club would make money, the charity would make money but more importantly both parties would enjoy a significant raise in profile.
I personally would like to see the club pursue a tie up deal with a nominated charity. The club would then use the charity outlets to merchandise their products in return for a percentage donation. The club would make money, the charity would make money but more importantly both parties would enjoy a significant raise in profile. camden

1:55pm Tue 17 Dec 13

adlibber says...

Sell OUFC merchandise with the promise that every purchase reduces Swindon's revenue by £10k - win/win
Sell OUFC merchandise with the promise that every purchase reduces Swindon's revenue by £10k - win/win adlibber

3:12pm Tue 17 Dec 13

GRB says...

Another example I saw at lunch time. You can buy a Reading calendar in town but you can't buy an OUFC one. That's a joke!
Another example I saw at lunch time. You can buy a Reading calendar in town but you can't buy an OUFC one. That's a joke! GRB

3:25pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Roy Burton's shorts says...

We are very fortunate to have a sports businessman like IL as our owner. He gets most of the calls right (and that clearly included the big CW decision at the end of last season). I also like the fact that he gives us a proper business perspective every so often.
Yet I'm surprised the club budgeted for lower attendances than our current average. If we expected progress up the table then that should have been reflected at the turnstiles Unless IL knows something we don't about the microeconomics of Oxfordshire, we should ALREADY be seeing the benefits of our table topping position.
I believe the club and supporter bond that IL refers to has been weakened by home performances that suggest we are in a false position. Higher attendances are driven by hope and expectation - yet even though we're top, I suspect the crowd don't yet BELIEVE. Attendance receipts (£2m plus) are far and away the most important income stream at this level. So if I were the owner I would wonder whether we should be playing more attractive, crowd pleasing, attendance-winning stuff. It seems to me that CW is a percentages man tactically. His brand of football - especially at home - rarely stirs the blood. Then again, are CW's tactics right for L2, or right for the resources at his disposal? I honestly don't know. If we are in the top 3 at the season's end I guess that's all that matters for the time being.

The Dagenham game was our best performance of the season. I'd still be saying that even if we hadn't won. If a casual supporter saw 3 games on the trot like that, they WOULD believe and they would come again. So please CW, give this 8000 attendance plenty to cheer on Boxing Day. It is Xmas, after all.
We are very fortunate to have a sports businessman like IL as our owner. He gets most of the calls right (and that clearly included the big CW decision at the end of last season). I also like the fact that he gives us a proper business perspective every so often. Yet I'm surprised the club budgeted for lower attendances than our current average. If we expected progress up the table then that should have been reflected at the turnstiles Unless IL knows something we don't about the microeconomics of Oxfordshire, we should ALREADY be seeing the benefits of our table topping position. I believe the club and supporter bond that IL refers to has been weakened by home performances that suggest we are in a false position. Higher attendances are driven by hope and expectation - yet even though we're top, I suspect the crowd don't yet BELIEVE. Attendance receipts (£2m plus) are far and away the most important income stream at this level. So if I were the owner I would wonder whether we should be playing more attractive, crowd pleasing, attendance-winning stuff. It seems to me that CW is a percentages man tactically. His brand of football - especially at home - rarely stirs the blood. Then again, are CW's tactics right for L2, or right for the resources at his disposal? I honestly don't know. If we are in the top 3 at the season's end I guess that's all that matters for the time being. The Dagenham game was our best performance of the season. I'd still be saying that even if we hadn't won. If a casual supporter saw 3 games on the trot like that, they WOULD believe and they would come again. So please CW, give this 8000 attendance plenty to cheer on Boxing Day. It is Xmas, after all. Roy Burton's shorts

4:02pm Tue 17 Dec 13

oldun says...

"With average league gates of 5,758, they are about 200 lower than last term, despite being top of Sky Bet League Two for much of the season."

They are well down on 2010-11 and 2011-12 - one over 7500 and the other just under 7500 - last season's gates were very disappointing - but. considering that we are top, this season's gates are staggeringly low - why is that?
"With average league gates of 5,758, they are about 200 lower than last term, despite being top of Sky Bet League Two for much of the season." They are well down on 2010-11 and 2011-12 - one over 7500 and the other just under 7500 - last season's gates were very disappointing - but. considering that we are top, this season's gates are staggeringly low - why is that? oldun

4:14pm Tue 17 Dec 13

BigOx22 says...

GRB wrote:
Another example I saw at lunch time. You can buy a Reading calendar in town but you can't buy an OUFC one. That's a joke!
I've seen this too! When Reading were in the PL you could buy the shirt in Oxford but not the counties own football club! It's stupid. Why are we restricted from buying our own clubs products but you can buy scummy products!

COYY
[quote][p][bold]GRB[/bold] wrote: Another example I saw at lunch time. You can buy a Reading calendar in town but you can't buy an OUFC one. That's a joke![/p][/quote]I've seen this too! When Reading were in the PL you could buy the shirt in Oxford but not the counties own football club! It's stupid. Why are we restricted from buying our own clubs products but you can buy scummy products! COYY BigOx22

5:50pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Headington Jim says...

oldun wrote:
"With average league gates of 5,758, they are about 200 lower than last term, despite being top of Sky Bet League Two for much of the season."

They are well down on 2010-11 and 2011-12 - one over 7500 and the other just under 7500 - last season's gates were very disappointing - but. considering that we are top, this season's gates are staggeringly low - why is that?
The answer is quite simple. We have about 9000 who consider themselves supporters. Unfortunately 4500 have stopped going to matches either because of disappointing home performances or because they became disaffected by CW or natural wastage. They make the effort for big games and bring friends and family to Wembley and they moan on here.
They even vote for man of the match when they haven't even seen the game.
The fact is they have got out of the habit finding other things to do but they would still say they are supporters. Bah humbug!
[quote][p][bold]oldun[/bold] wrote: "With average league gates of 5,758, they are about 200 lower than last term, despite being top of Sky Bet League Two for much of the season." They are well down on 2010-11 and 2011-12 - one over 7500 and the other just under 7500 - last season's gates were very disappointing - but. considering that we are top, this season's gates are staggeringly low - why is that?[/p][/quote]The answer is quite simple. We have about 9000 who consider themselves supporters. Unfortunately 4500 have stopped going to matches either because of disappointing home performances or because they became disaffected by CW or natural wastage. They make the effort for big games and bring friends and family to Wembley and they moan on here. They even vote for man of the match when they haven't even seen the game. The fact is they have got out of the habit finding other things to do but they would still say they are supporters. Bah humbug! Headington Jim

6:48pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Manor Born says...

Of course, those saying a retail presence in the city centre are right, and undoubtedly the club continue to search for a viable way for this to happen. Unforutnately it is not the wasy.

The cost of retail space in Oxford is staggeringly high - one of the highest outside of central London. Other retailers do not want to give up any of their prime selling locations - especially at this time of year.

The charity shop idea is interesting, but how would having a commercial venture alongside them affect their rates? I suspect again, it would not be that easy and could invalidate their leases and would certainly get the authorities investigating - an unnecessary distraction that could prove costly.

The big chain sports retailers are very negative when it comes to local football sides. They are only interested in big clubs with big followings who are seen on tv every week.

What happened to the deal with the University shop on the High Street not so long ago?

Alternatively, there is a new(ish) sports team in the city, trying to build a following and keen to establish itself in the area. They are already sharing the ground, so why not go into partnership with London Welsh? They are seemingly here to stay, so not only could it be a joint partnership selling merchandise, it could also be used to promote both clubs commercially and selling tickets.

The problem though is commerical viability. It has been tried before and never really worked having a city centre presence. Staffing costs, rents, overheads are just simply too high to make any standalone solution impractical. And when there have been franchises - Birthdays/University Shop - the sales and footfall going into those shops haven't justified the prime sales locations allocated.
Of course, those saying a retail presence in the city centre are right, and undoubtedly the club continue to search for a viable way for this to happen. Unforutnately it is not the wasy. The cost of retail space in Oxford is staggeringly high - one of the highest outside of central London. Other retailers do not want to give up any of their prime selling locations - especially at this time of year. The charity shop idea is interesting, but how would having a commercial venture alongside them affect their rates? I suspect again, it would not be that easy and could invalidate their leases and would certainly get the authorities investigating - an unnecessary distraction that could prove costly. The big chain sports retailers are very negative when it comes to local football sides. They are only interested in big clubs with big followings who are seen on tv every week. What happened to the deal with the University shop on the High Street not so long ago? Alternatively, there is a new(ish) sports team in the city, trying to build a following and keen to establish itself in the area. They are already sharing the ground, so why not go into partnership with London Welsh? They are seemingly here to stay, so not only could it be a joint partnership selling merchandise, it could also be used to promote both clubs commercially and selling tickets. The problem though is commerical viability. It has been tried before and never really worked having a city centre presence. Staffing costs, rents, overheads are just simply too high to make any standalone solution impractical. And when there have been franchises - Birthdays/University Shop - the sales and footfall going into those shops haven't justified the prime sales locations allocated. Manor Born

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