9:30am Thursday 17th April 2014
By David Pritchard
IAN Lenagan has called on supporters to match his commitment to Oxford United, with the chairman saying they hold the key to the club’s financial success in the future.
Tomorrow, they are due to announce season ticket prices for the 2014-15 campaign, on the day Gary Waddock’s side host fellow play-off hopefuls York City.
A victory would put the U’s in a good position to make the play-offs, their highest finish since dropping out of the third tier in 2001.
But although the side have spent all but one week of the campaign in the top seven, crowds at the Kassam Stadium are down from last season.
It marks a 20 per cent decrease on the figure from two years ago.
It has a significant impact on the finances, with United’s most recent accounts – up to June last year – revealing a £1.1m loss.
Lenagan, whose interest-free loan to the club now stands at more than £6.1m, is optimistic the heavy losses will not continue, but made it clear how vital it was for fans to give their backing.
“An extra 1,000 spectators through the gate makes a massive difference,” he said.
“You’re talking about £10,000 a game and we have 23 home games.
“If we got 2,000 extra spectators you almost wipe the losses out. It’s within our grasp.
“If you were to say who can make the biggest difference to Oxford United financially, it’s the fans. It’s not me.
“I’m propping up losses and trying to change the business, trying to appoint a good manager, trying to get the right commercial people, which I’ve got.
“I’ve probably done almost everything I can do now.”
Lenagan is aware supporters will be influenced by whether United play attractive, successful football, something he believes is in the process of coming to fruition by appointing Gary Waddock as head coach.
And the U’s owner says now is the time for fans to turn up.
He said: “I think my commitment to Oxford and the Lenagan family’s commitment to Oxford has been massive. And it continues.
“My request to Oxford fans, particularly now, but on into the new season, is to buy season tickets, buy match tickets.
“Show that you support Oxford United in the same way that I support Oxford United, both financially and in effort.”
United’s chief pointed to tomorrow’s home game as a good exam ple. It clashes with the traditional Good Friday fixture between his other club, rugby league side Wigan Warriors, and St Helens.
But he will be at the Kassam Stadium and is hoping for a gate of about 6,500, although forecasts earlier this week predicted an attendance of 5,600.
Lenagan said: “I’m going to the Oxford game – that shows you where my heart is, doesn’t it?
“Sure, Wigan are on television at 12.15pm, but it’s not the same, you want to be supporting on the ground and I’ve been at every game for more years than I can remember, but I’ll be at Oxford on Friday.
“I’m saying to the fans do the same – pay your money, show your support and come along.”
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