Oxford United has been placed in the bottom half of League One clubs in a new index of fairness in football.

Fair Game, which is a campaign group which works to improve how football is governed, has said the sport urgently needs a “reboot”, as many clubs in the lower leagues are struggling financially.

The index of fairness in football determines a club’s ranking using more than 80 sources of data which draw on a club’s finances, commitment to equality, fan engagement and governance of clubs in England’s top leagues.

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Oxford United scored 28 out of 100 on the index and this placed the club 21st of all clubs in League One last season.

The index revealed that the club ranked 20th in League One for its financial sustainability.

The report also states that Oxford United is not signed up to the Living Wage Scheme as previously reported by this newspaper.

This scheme commits employers to pay all staff a minimum of £10.90 or £11.95 if they are based in London.

The club was named and shamed last month for breaching the National Minimum Wage law and failing to pay more than £10,000 to 31 workers.

Mark Middling, director financial policy for Fair Game, said: “Football is unsustainable.

“Since the start of the Premier League, there have been 64 incidents of clubs in the top four divisions going into administration.

"Companies House data reveals that 44 of the top 92 were technically insolvent in 2022, and 31 per cent of clubs were spending more than they earn on players’ wages – that figure rises to 68 per cent when you look at the Championship.

"The culture of penalties to control clubs has failed.”

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Fair Game’s proposals include Premier League Clubs contributing 25 per cent of their revenue to lower league clubs, alongside 10 per cent of all transfer fees.

This would result in Oxford United receiving an estimated £1.7 million which would be £837,000 more than they do under the current model of redistributing funds.

Oxford Mail: Oxford United fans ready to support the U's Photo: Barry Symonds

Niall Couper, chief executive of Fair Game, added: "Premier League clubs have rejected calls to increase the financial flow through the pyramid because of risky financial behaviour by some clubs in the EFL.

"Distributing more money through the Index to the better-run clubs in the pyramid resolves those concerns."

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In League One, Cambridge United topped the rankings, with Plymouth Argle taking the second spot and Lincoln City came in third.

In the Championship, Norwich City clinched top spot and Burnley came second, followed in third by West Bromwich Albion.

In the Premier League, Brentford was ranked first, and was followed in second place by Southampton and West Ham in third place.

The club ranked best for financial sustainability in the Premier League was Manchester United.

Oxford United has been approached for comment.

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Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

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