9:30am Friday 27th June 2014
By Mark Edwards
The leader of a group of Oxfordshire businessmen who have launched a takeover bid for Oxford United, says they have the financial muscle to take the club forward.
Charlie Methven confirmed last night that talks have taken place between his consortium and U’s owner Ian Lenagan.
However, the United supporter doubted they were the frontrunners, with a rival group, led by Mark Ashton, believed to still be in pole position to take control.
Methven, who has been working in an advisory role with the U’s, says his group have spoken to Lenagan and will provide him with an “alternative option”.
“We approached the owner about a month ago and indicated that if the club came up for sale, we would be interested,” Methven said.
“We held conversations that were both friendly and constructive.
“Those conversations have dried up in recent weeks, I am not sure exactly why, but it might indicate that somebody is in a stronger position than us.”
He added: “In previous years when Oxford United have been in difficulties, there has only been one offer on the table.
“I do not believe this is healthy, and so we are keen to provide an alternative option.
“We have raised significant funds, and feel the amount would be sufficient.
“However, we could have more funds as a back-up if needed.
“We have given a firm indication we would be interested, and believe Ian was grateful for that interest.”
The situation has arisen due to speculation the United chairman is unwilling to continue pouring money into a club which has lost more than £1m for two successive years.
The latest available accounts, which cover the 12 months up to the end of June 2013, show Lenagan’s total investment, through his Woodstock Partners Ltd company, was in excess of £6m.
Methven is hoping his group’s affinity with Oxford United could work in their favour.
“I have, and remain, a major supporter of what the Lenagans have done,” Methven said.
“They have put a number of very good things in place at the club, and I was concerned – and still am – that whoever comes in, if they are an unknown quantity, won’t be the best people to complete those things.”
Methven was appointed as a trustee of the Oxford United Youth and Community Sports Trust in May 2011 and last year played a key role in setting up fans’ group the Yellow Army.
His name was revealed in a statement from supporters’ trust OxVox, whose calls for Lenagan to break his silence and put fans in the picture of developments have fallen on deaf ears.
The U’s owner has still to return any calls from the Oxford Mail or reply to any of our requests for an interview.
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