Report this comment
  • "Over on the BBC Website we find that the notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE gave Ian Hudspeth a right telling off for daring to support the possibility of a new stadium at Water Eaton.

    They went on to say:-

    "A commercial multi-seater stadium, with parking and other facilities, is development on an industrial scale and completely unacceptable."

    So no only is this organisation an unlected unaccountable body that does what it can to stop new homes being built in Oxford - but they are now campaigning to stop Oxford United from having a new and better located stadium...."
  • This field is mandatory
  • This field is mandatory
  • Please note we will not accept reports with HTML tags or URLs in them.


  • Enter the above word in the box below

OXFORD UNITED: It's all change at the top

From left, Darryl Eales, Ian Lenagan and Mark Ashton at the Kassam Stadium yesterday          	 Picture: Ed Nix

From left, Darryl Eales, Ian Lenagan and Mark Ashton at the Kassam Stadium yesterday Picture: Ed Nix Buy this photo

First published in Sport
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor. Call me on 01865 425451

IT’S a new era at Oxford United after a dramatic day at the Kassam Stadium.

Darryl Eales and Mark Ashton’s takeover was confirmed, with Ian Lenagan remaining on the board, but now charged with responsibility for the club’s ‘stadium development’ project.

Manager Gary Waddock was sacked, with Michael Appleton replacing him at the helm, while Mr Lenagan’s sons, Simon and Adrian, have left the club’s board of directors.

Mr Eales becomes chairman, with Mr Ashton the chief executive in a potentially-pivotal announcement in the history of Oxford United that ends intense speculation over the club’s future.

Mr Lenagan, who has been chairman for two years, said the time was right for a change, and believes the added investment from Mr Eales will drive the club forward.

Mr Lenagan said: “It is a big day for Oxford United and these are very exciting times. With more funds now available, in terms of both development and with the new management, it doubles the resources that we have got in order to progress.”

He refused to reveal the exact shareholding that he and Mr Eales now hold, except for saying both were ‘more than 30 but less than 50 per cent’.

When asked to clarify whether these figures were equal, Mr Lenagan replied: “I don’t think it matters. Why on earth does everybody think they have the right to know private business?

“There are two shareholders who have shares between 30 per cent and less than 50. The intricacies of how that operates in a contract is private.”

Mr Eales, a Birmingham City fan, is relishing the opportunity of getting into football, and says although Mr Lenagan will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations, he will still have a big role to play.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted Ian is staying involved so I can just pick his brains because he will have a huge amount of knowledge I won’t have, as has Mark.”

Mr Ashton, a former chief executive of Watford and Wycombe Wanderers, was introduced to Mr Eales last year through a mutual acquaintance.

The former West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper believes after briefly looking into other clubs, United fits the bill.

“There’s a ton of football clubs that purport to be up for sale and purport to be very well run,” said Mr Ashton, who is moving to a property in Woodstock.

“I spoke to Ian probably about a year ago and the one thing he and the Lenagan family have done here, in my opinion, is build solid foundations.

“Whether that’s on the football side or the community, or the academy. It fitted perfectly with our model and interpretation of how everything should operate.

“We’re all so excited about the opportunity here at Oxford.”

While Mr Eales and Mr Ashton will be tasked with driving the club forward on the field, Mr Lenagan’s role with the club is now one of trying to secure the ownership of a ground.

He hopes that will be at the Kassam Stadium, but is prepared to look at other options, with a new site at Water Eaton one potential alternative.

Oxford Mail:

From left, Darryl Eales, Ian Lenagan and Mark Ashton outline their plans for the future at yesterday’s press conference.

A recent study found all of Oxfordshire’s councils need to build 100,000 more homes by 2031.

This means that over the next few months, all will be redrawing their planning policies to take this into account.

Mr Lenagan said: “To take advantage of the immediate opportunity which is planning and development led, it’s important we get hold of the stadium.

“I could easily see the long-term future being at the Kassam and I would like it to be there.

“This is the opportunity to make sure that over the next two or three years we are in a location that we have control and ownership of.

“The revenue flowing from that is what will fund long-term our ambition in football terms.”

He added: “In terms of buying the stadium, it is the closest we have ever been together – ourselves and Firoka.

“We are probably closer because we are sharing an opportunity for this place to be zoned, with the city council backing it and Oxford United being the centre of the community.

“It’s almost a marriage made in heaven.

“But we have always said that terms and price have to be right and we are very close to that situation as far as the Kassam is concerned.”

A rival takeover bid from a consortium led by Charlie Methven was submitted on Thursday, but Mr Lenagan said that their interest was never a factor.

“The new investors are prepared to be involved with the club on the basis that a stadium deal is probably going to happen,” he said.

“We did finally get a bid from another group but that was conditional on us having done the deal on the stadium already.

“Darryl is quite prepared to take the risk and move forward.

“Charlie and his group are nice people and they are welcome to come and talk to us if they wish to do so and if they wish to inject further finances to make things go quicker, of course we’d be delighted to speak.”

In the latest accounts, which cover the 12 months up to June last year, United owe Lenagan’s Woodstock Partners Ltd £6.1m, which increased further last year.

Mr Lenagan said: “The debt remains but there are very comprehensive arrangements in place to make sure that Oxford United is taken well care of between the two principle shareholders and there are many options beyond the debt.

“They are putting real significant investment into the club, although I’m not giving you figures.

“That investment is in addition to that debt. Darryl is putting extra money into the business.”

New boss Mr Appleton will meet the Oxford United players – and the media – for the first time on Monday.

Our top stories:

UPDATE: Car fire and oil spillage closes A40 near Ducklington and A34 car fire cause delays

Oxford Mail: A40 alert

4:03pm Friday 19th December 2014

A CAR fire and oil spillage closed the A40 westbound causing severe delays.

Motorcyclist 'punches pensioner and hits his car windscreen with helmet' after Cutteslowe crash

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014

A PENSIONER was “severely” injured when he was attacked in his car by a motorcyclist in Cutteslowe, police said.

UPDATE: Body found after motorhome fire at caravan site near Chipping Norton

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:30am Friday 19th December 2014

A BODY was found after a fire at a caravan site motorhome.

What brilliant picture is in our Oxford Mail Advent Calendar today?

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014

December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?

Oxford United striker John Campbell is keen to make his mark at Hartlepool

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Friday 19th December 2014

John Campbell admits it would be difficult to keep his kit on if he was able to make an impact on debut for Oxford United tomorrow.

‘New £9.2m Leys pool’s too small for contests’

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Friday 19th December 2014

SWIMMING competitions planned for the new £9.2m pool in Blackbird Leys could be at risk due to lack of space, it has been warned.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree