So, what do we know now?

myles

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Having been in self-imposed exile for the past three months, finding ourselves bottom of the table after 12 games has prompted me to take a fresh look at where we are now, particularly off-the-field. What has happened in the (almost) eight months reign of Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth?

There was a lot of talk coming into the close season about the signings we were going to make, and the quality which was going to be added to the squad. Even allowing for management failings, bottom after 12 games doesn’t lie; we have a lower mid-table squad at best. There is, of course, debate to be had about whether a good budget has been spent badly, or whether it wasn’t a particularly good budget in the first place. Certainly, the often-contradictory statements of the current manager don’t help in working this out. My feeling, however, is that it’s more the latter than the former. Regardless, I don’t think the position is helped by what’s going on behind the scenes.

We currently have an absentee owner, and regardless of modern technology allowing 24/7 communication, nothing can replace having someone actually at the club on a regular basis with appropriate decision-making authority. You can glean a hell of a lot more simply being on site rather than relying on emails and phone calls. This is exacerbated by having a part-time managing director and, again, regardless of his competence (and I know there are those questioning this), you simply can’t run a professional football club with an absentee owner and a part-time MD.

What the club was crying out for was a director who could be at the club on a regular basis to fill the void. So, when two new directors were announced last month I was looking forward to finding out what they were bringing to the club and/or what investment were they making. And the answer to that is “no idea”. All we really know is that we have a German who is Hong Kong/Vietnam based, with no apparent previous involvement in football, and a London-based Jordanian, whose investment company provided a $25m loan to Reading when they were owned by the Thai consortium. As mentioned in my previous posts, this resulted in significant sums being paid out by Reading to arrange and service this loan.

So, what are they actually bringing to the party? There doesn’t appear to have been any financial investment, at least not in equity terms anyway. There is, of course, the fabled “contacts” and “expertise”, and the basic fact that they appear to be wealthy individuals. But this simply raises the question of why they would want to get involved with a third-tier English football club, with no ground, no real assets, and an ongoing dispute with the club’s landlord? Getting some insight into their reasons would be really useful. Similarly, if there is substance behind the much-rumoured bid from Erick Thohir, there needs to be scrutiny of what his interest actually is.

And, on the dispute with the landlord, what the hell is going on? How on earth have things been allowed to deteriorate to this level? Yes, we all know that Kassam is a supposedly-difficult character to deal with, but when the club’s MD is effectively trying to threaten Kassam to the negotiating table by saying that there are five potential sites the club could move to, that’s the sort of bullshit which needs calling out.

Whose job is it to call out this bullshit? Well, surely that’s down to our supporters’ trust? Unfortunately, OxVox have all but disappeared, certainly in terms of anything substantial. We’ve had two directors appointed; not even acknowledged by OxVox, let alone any queries as to what they are bringing to the club. We have the MD claiming there are five sites the club can move to; no comment from OxVox despite them previously nailing their colours firmly to the KasStad mast. In fact, no feedback at all from OxVox of the recent fans’ forum on any topic! What’s the current debt situation at the club? Has Darryl Eales received his £4-and-a-bit million pay off from the club? So many significant issues, so few questions apparently being asked. Even allowing for the rumoured in-fighting on the committee, this level of radio silence is unconscionable for a supporters’ trust.

I note the chair of the trust said on Thursday “just because someone is not saying anything all of the time it doesn't mean they aren't doing anything.” That is of course true, but saying precisely nothing of substance for many months certainly gives the impression of doing nothing.
 

yellowbow

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Interesting post asking very pertinent questions. I think any true fan would want the answers but you know what? I have to admit this season has ground me down to a point where for my own sanity I have to say I’ve given up caring about anything else than the immediate concerns on the pitch. Tiger is what he is and Robinson is quite clearly here for the foreseeable future. I’ve just decided to try and be a positive as I can be and focus my mind on supporting the team to collect as many points as they possibly can. Good luck in finding anything out about what the hell is going on elsewhere let alone changing anything. I know it’s probably the wrong mindset but I’ll leave the politics for people who still have the fight and stomach for it.
 

Manorlounger

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Welcome back Myles!

It is difficult to do much more than speculate at the moment for, as you have said, there is very little communication coming out of the club. Being a member of Oxvox I would have expected a little more information but I do have it from, I hope, a fairly reliable source that the budget was good, at least sufficient to put in bids acceptable to the selling clubs, for some serious players. Those players then decided against coming to OUFC and went elsewhere.
Given the appalling start to the season I would have expected more activity from the club in terms of reassuring fans that there is activity but, aside from some "throw away" comments on alternate sites and general slating of FK, we have nothing.
That there are sites around Oxford is known but, they are not just waiting for a new stadium. Most areas are under green belt protection and housing will always be given priority. Even then, a sizeable sum of money will be required. Also, I don't see OCC being scammed again into giving away land on the cheap to an "enterprising chap" from somewhere abroad. (and smoothing away all covenants prohibiting alcohol sales.)
 

Pete Burrett

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Yes, welcome back Myles.

I'll avoid comment on OxVox as it may be that they are engaged 'behind the scenes' in something of import that can't be discussed openly as yet, but all the other issues you raise are of concern to me and, I would hope, every Oxford fan.
 

Shropshire U

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Thanks for the good summary, Myles.
Sometimes clubs can achieve on-field success with a good manager and a decent squad, despite a distant or unsatisfactory board.
And sometimes a competent and fully engaged board might not translate into success on the pitch.
The worrying thing for us at the moment is that we have the worst of both worlds.
 

ttg17

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Don't know anything about the vast majority of the points made, but is it naive to suggest that the sudden influx of what seem to be uber-rich foreign investors might be due to the fact that, on paper, the club looks a really good investment as a football club? Issues with stadium ownership and debts and whatever aside, you're purchasing a club with a huge catchment area (only professional football team in Oxfordshire?) and the name of a city that is recognised around the world. It is very marketable (particularly to an international audience, as we have seen Tiger focus on) and has the potential to grow exponentially. If you were wealthy to the point where you had the funds to cover the overheads mentioned (e.g. buying the stadium?) and then grow the club, your return could presumably eventually be massive.

So might that not be the reason for their investment now, rather than anything too cynical?
 

Victor1986

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Cambridge & York are also widely known around the world & nobody is sniffing around Cambridge United or York City! I think the whole "Oxford" thing is a red herring to get us all excited. The sort of characters Tiger is latching on to are property men who may be anticipating returns from off the field dealings - they can't be interested in the footballing side with the way we are going at present.
 

Pete Burrett

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Cambridge & York are also widely known around the world & nobody is sniffing around Cambridge United or York City! I think the whole "Oxford" thing is a red herring to get us all excited. The sort of characters Tiger is latching on to are property men who may be anticipating returns from off the field dealings - they can't be interested in the footballing side with the way we are going at present.
That's the way I see it too. 'Brand Oxford' is a nice idea, but we all know worldwide recognition rests solely with the University. Just because a small-ish football club resides in the same city can't be exciting any potential investor, surely? What WILL interest them is the amount of very expensive land the stadium is sitting on and any potential deal with Kassam to share in developing it.
 

Scotchegg

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There is never anything wrong with asking difficult questions, but when we have no answers it is all too easy to put a spin on this to fit with any particular view or agenda.

Whilst it isn't for Myles or anyone else on here to provide any answers, what have we learnt from this thread? That we have a foreign owner who is rarely here, we have a part time MD, we have a poor squad and the stadium situation that remains a mess?! Hardly breaking news.
 
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myles

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There is never anything wrong with asking difficult questions, but when we have no answers it is all too easy to put a spin on this to fit with any particular view or agenda.
Well, quite. And considering we had a fans forum just a couple of weeks ago, it's somewhat surprising that there are no answers.

Maybe those who should be asking such questions need to be a bit more visible in actually asking them? This isn't a case of people not liking the answers, it's more that there is no evidence of them being asked at all.
 

myles

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Cambridge & York are also widely known around the world & nobody is sniffing around Cambridge United or York City! I think the whole "Oxford" thing is a red herring to get us all excited. The sort of characters Tiger is latching on to are property men who may be anticipating returns from off the field dealings - they can't be interested in the footballing side with the way we are going at present.
Agreed. The whole Brand Oxford stuff was B*****s when Guerriero was spouting it at City, and it's just as much B*****s now. If the club were ever to reach the Premiership then it may give us an extra little boost in global profile, but other than that it's just guff, IMHO.
 

bazzer9461

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Well written Myles and as you probably know from this site, I haven’t always been a fan of your postings that’s not personal. But this post I am impressed with, but I do have one thing you’ve written that I am wondering about is these 5 sites that the MD has spoken off, Where are these supposed 5 sites? The reason I ask is because ( I have no faith in the OCC as I don’t believe they’re interested in OUFC ) but if the the OCC have had to ask other local councils to take part of their quota of house builds because they’ve run out of space, so where the hell can a decent football stadium be built in Oxford
 

Scotchegg

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Agreed. The whole Brand Oxford stuff was B*****s when Guerriero was spouting it at City, and it's just as much B*****s now. If the club were ever to reach the Premiership then it may give us an extra little boost in global profile, but other than that it's just guff, IMHO.
I'm not so sure that's true. We are looking to sell the Oxford brand to investors firstly rather than becoming a global footballing name.

Football does not generate enough revenue at our level alone to make any investment viable. Therefore we either need an owner who can afford to P**s away a few million a year, or develop additional revenue streams. That will most likely include other entertainment events (music/other sports), business and conference centre, hotel, leisure and retail. Oxford is prime for all of this, especially if the Kassam becomes housing in time!

This will need financing and it will be easier to draw foreign investment into somewhere like Oxford than it would be at places such as Norwich or Wigan.
 

Oxe

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Good to hear from you again, Myles. Following your original post on the ST take over, am always interested in your slant on how things are developing. Did KR have a decent budget but couldn't persuade people to come here (understand that Lyle Taylor said no on location grounds), hence no acknowledged first rate striker signed, or did the owner's promises of substantial funds eventually not materialise so KR never had the budget he had expected to be able to spend.
 

southupper

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Great thread, however would any of the points raised on here be in our thoughts if we were sitting mid table or above( Dream on)?
 

radicalox

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Agreed. The whole Brand Oxford stuff was B*****s when Guerriero was spouting it at City, and it's just as much B*****s now. If the club were ever to reach the Premiership then it may give us an extra little boost in global profile, but other than that it's just guff, IMHO.
Your original post had a few interesting points but I find this all encompassing rejection of tigers brand strategy quite franky very arrogant. It is rather easy to rudely (guff and b******) dismiss the efforts of others who are trying alternative methods to make something work, without providing any real reasons for that dismissal nor providing any alternative ideas. I'd hazard a guess he knows more about this area than yourself.
 

outsidethebox

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Irrespective of whether you are understood, mis-understood, agreed or disagreed with, this forum is a much better place with your input. Welcome back Myles!

And there was me think you'd been trolling some North East forum!
 

myles

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Your original post had a few interesting points but I find this all encompassing rejection of tigers brand strategy quite franky very arrogant. It is rather easy to rudely (guff and b******) dismiss the efforts of others who are trying alternative methods to make something work, without providing any real reasons for that dismissal nor providing any alternative ideas. I'd hazard a guess he knows more about this area than yourself.
OK, I'll happily give my reasons for why I think it's guff.

Oxford is world famous as a seat of learning. Believing that will translate into additional global support for the football club, particularly at its current level, is naive imho. If it was as simple as that, it would've been done by now. English clubs have become famous around the world through their footballing pedigree alone. Can you name one club which has a large global profile which hasn't come from its football success? And, yes, maybe Tiger does know more about it than me, so it'd be nice if he actually outlined his plans to us mere mortals.

Picking up on @Scotchegg 's point above about using the name to attract investors, this is precisely what Guerriero was doing at City. He was reliant on, to be blunt, gullible investors buying into the Oxford name - helped by the deliberate smoke and mirrors of marketing the football club along with "Oxford City University" etc etc. That doesn't seem to be a particularly sustainable way of growing revenue.
 
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