So quiet as Oxford United return to training

9:30am Tuesday 1st July 2014

By David Pritchard

GARY Waddock’s search for new players continues, but as Oxford United returned for pre-season training yesterday, the head coach admitted no signings were imminent.

The squad underwent a variety of tests at the training ground to assess their fitness after the summer break.

It took place against a backdrop of speculation concerning ownership of the club, with groups headed by Mark Ashton and Charlie Methven understood to be interested in taking over from owner Ian Lenagan.

Striker Danny Hylton was the only new face on view and some supporters have questioned whether the uncertainty surrounding United is linked with a very quiet summer which has yielded just one signing.

While Waddock stressed the hard work behind the scenes to strengthen the squad continues, there is little prospect of deals in the next couple of days.

He said: “I would like to say we’ve got another x-amount of players coming in, that isn’t the case at the moment.

“We’re looking, we’ve got a group of players here we’re going to work with and we’ve got a young group of players coming through the system.”

Waddock was reluctant to get drawn into any discussion about boardroom matters as he focused on buiding for the new season.

He said: “It’s got nothing to do with me, I’m employed here to be head coach. What goes on above, I can’t pass comment on that.”

Lenagan remained unavailable for comment yesterday, with the club’s supporters’ trust calling for transparency from all interested parties over their plans for the stadium.

Last year, OxVox won a landmark case which made the Kassam Stadium an Asset of Community Value, giving them the right to activate a six-month moratorium to put together a rival bid if an offer was submitted.

If a bid is accepted on the Kassam Stadium, the right to bid is triggered.

The OxVox committee would then seek to get information from the bidding party and make a recommendation to members on whether to remove or activate the right to bid.

While no such move has been made so far, it is felt anyone looking to take over would also look to strike a deal for the ground, which is the key asset.

Mark Sennett, OxVox chairman, is keen to ensure if it happens, the club are the ones to benefit.

He said: “We would support as a committee any bid for Oxford United to own the asset and for it to be beneficial, but we can’t do that if we don’t know what the aims are.

"The committee could only support a bid if Oxford United owner the stadium not a subsidiary company as the club's long-term future relies on it having the asset in its name and benefiting from the revenues.

“If a new owner wanted the stadium ownership put in a subsidiary company then this might offer short term gains of no rent, or extra revenues.

“But this situation could change down the line at the whim of that owner.

“The only way for the club to truly come together with the stadium is for Oxford United to own it.

"It is in that situation, or at the very least the stadium being held in a trust for the club, that we would advise members to remove the right to bid."

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