10:14am Wednesday 25th June 2014
By Mark Edwards
OXFORD United’s supporters’ trust have expressed ‘caution’ over the news that a consortium involving Mark Ashton is understood to be interested in taking over the football club.
The former West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper has previously been chief executive at Watford and Wycombe Wanderers, although he lasted just four months in his role at the latter.
Although nothing has been confirmed or denied by United about the rumours, Mark Sennett, chairman of supporters’ group OxVox, says that looking into Ashton’s past has rung alarm bells.
United’s owner and chairman Ian Lenagan has always said he is happy to talk with anyone who is interested in getting involved with the club, but in an interview with the Oxford Mail in April - his last public interview - said that the club was not for sale.
"We get them (approaches) every couple of months, I had another one this week who might be real, or might not be real, " he said.
"I always have a simple view, I will talk with anybody who wants to get involved with Oxford United.
"Do I want to sell Oxford United? No, I don't."
However, rumours of a takeover do concern Sennett.
“Any time a rumour does the rounds and a name is linked to Oxford United, we, as a supporters’ trust, have to do our research,” he said.
“We have spoken to people connected to Watford and Wycombe Wanderers where Mr Ashton has been in the past and, being honest, the feedback from fans is not good.
“If there is to be an ownership change at the club, our one and only concern is that the person or group must have the interest of our football club, Oxford United, at heart and that the deal would be the right one for the football club.
“I suppose the word I would use in terms to our reaction is cautious.”
OxVox last year won the right to bid to buy on the Kassam Stadium should it ever go up for sale after Oxford City Council used new laws to make it a “community asset”.
This means owner Firoz Kassam would have to declare a six-month moratorium for supporters to put together a rival bid before any sale.
Sennett confirmed that they had not received notice of a bid for the stadium.
But if one were to be submitted, it would then be up to the members of the supporters’ group to decide if they wanted to launch a counter-offer.
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