Ian Lenagan has pledged not to cut Oxford United’s playing budget next season despite forecasting further losses over the next 12 months.
Finances were one of a host of topics covered at a forum attended by about 200 supporters at the Kassam Stadium last night.
Last week the Oxford Mail revealed the U’s were expecting to make a £450,000 loss for this year.
But Lenagan told the forum the projections had been revised to £660,000, while the losses for the year ending last June could be as high as £750,000.
The United chairman, who put an extra £125,000 into the club on Monday, is optimistic of brighter economic times ahead, but they will stay in the red for the moment.
Although the figures look bleak, Lenagan made it clear it would not mean cuts to the playing budget.
He said: “I think in terms of next year we’re probably looking at a worst-case scenario of a £300-400,000 loss.
“We will give you a commitment that next year we will spend on the first-team squad at the same pro rata level as we are now.
“We will fund the 22 players that are needed, plus the development and youth squads in order to give Oxford United a good chance next season.”
The United chief gave a 40-minute presentation on a wide variety of aspects, along with his sons, Simon and Adrian, who are directors, before taking questions for an hour.
Overall he is optimistic, but discussed areas he had sought to improve in the last few months, including the level of medical checks on transfer targets, which he believes have not been stringent enough in the past.
Among the points raised by the audience was a question on manager Chris Wilder’s future if the U’s missed out on the play-offs this season.
Lenagan made a top-seven finish the target last summer, but a change will not be automatic if it is not achieved.
He said: “At the moment it’s a clear position that we need to be in at least the play-offs and preferably to win them.
“It’s less likely, but I can envisage circumstances where I make a judgement that Chris Wilder has done a great job in the next three months.
“I won’t say yes or no, I will reserve judgement and when it’s time I will stand here and tell you why.”
Lenagan was pleased with the response of the supporters, commenting he was not expecting to enjoy the evening quite as much.
Mark Sennett, chairman of supporter group OxVox, felt it was a constructive meeting.
He said: “I think it was a very productive evening, no question was off limits, so it was a real credit to fans and the club for asking difficult questions and getting good answers.”