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Thomas: The signing that showed Oxford United's intent
But it was not the impact he made on the pitch that was critical, but more the intent it showed off it.
Thomas, who stepped down as U’s chief on Friday to be replaced by owner Ian Lenagan, reflected on his tenure at the Kassam Stadium with fondess.
He felt his most important acquisition was that of Chris Wilder, but while Thomas gave the green light for the manager to bring in a huge amount of new faces, it was that of Clist, who was signed for an undisclosed fee in February 2009, that he points to as the most important.
When Thomas took over as chairman, the club were on the brink of administration.
But he decided that the best way to attract more income off the pitch, was to have a better and more successful side on it.
So he gave new boss Wilder the thumbs-up to bring in new faces, some of which would cost money.
“Looking back, there are moments where we made big decisions,” he said.
“And one really big one was to invest in the playing squad.
“In the first transfer window myself and Chris were here, we signed Simon Clist.
“While Simon did well for us, it was the actual fact that we had signed somebody and paid money for them.
“It wasn’t big money, but anything over £10 at the time would have been a lot for us.
“But that showed real intent.”
He added: “Bringing Chris in was a major decision and he has played an enormous impact here.
“He has been a massive part of what we have achieved in terms of success on the pitch.
“We had a bit of a reputation of not winning big games, but I feel that we changed that.
“Ian has always said that getting into the Championship was the aim, and I think that is where Oxford United should be aiming.”
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