Meet Oxford Utd's new owner, Nick Merry

First published in Search

NICK Merry is making a remarkable return to Oxford United the club where once he dreamed of being a hero on the field.

He looked destined for a glittering footballing career as a youngster but fate dealt a hand which saw success come in the field of business. And it is that which has allowed him to mastermind the takeover of United.

He was a schoolboy player of much promise, as a pupil of Marlborough School, Woodstock, who was selected for the England Schoolboys.

He signed for Oxford United in 1978, but spent only one season at the Manor Ground before moving into non-league football with Witney Town after an unsuccessful trial with Norwich City, then in the first division.

He quit football to concentrate on the antiques business back in 1982 the same year that Jim Smith took over as United manager.

Brought up in Woodstock, he dabbled in the antiques business with former Oxford City footballer Trevor Stokes, who was later manager of Old Woodstock Town.

But he wanted one more chance at a football career and moved to America to try his luck with the Kansas City Comets in the Indoor Soccer League.

After that he appears to have turned his hand to business and in 1998 invested in MicroDentex, a dental biotech firm which developed a test to identify organisms responsible for diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

He became the president and major shareholder of the company based in Fort Myers, Florida, before it was reported that a letter of intent had been signed to sell 80 per cent of the shares to a company called Senior Care Industries.

In 2003, he also had an interest in a restaurant called the Royal Windsor, in Fort Myers' richest suburb, Captiva, based on an exclusive island off the coast.

The restaurant is now no longer trading and there is no record of him either running a business or owning a property in the area, according to sources in Fort Myers.

But Mr Merry has always maintained his links with Woodstock.

In 2001 he was elected mock mayor of the town and was duly dunked in the River Glyme, following the tradition of the ancient ceremony.

The event took place at the Black Prince pub, which is owned by Ian Lenagan, who was then the official mayor of the town. Mr Merry, 45, was described at the time as being a "business associate" of Mr Lenagan who was rumoured earlier this year as being part of the consortium buying the club.

Mr Merry is now believed to be dividing his time between Woodstock and the US.

He is reported to be in the process of buying the Vickers restaurant in the town and also renting a flat nearby.

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