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  • "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."
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Oxford United chief sets cash targets

Oxford Mail: 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.”

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