THE level of investment needed at Oxford United has been much higher than expected, owner Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth has admitted.

It is 11 months since the Thai businessman bought the controlling stake from Darryl Eales, but questions over his leadership have mounted in recent weeks following two winding-up petitions.

Both have been settled with HM Revenue & Customs, but there has been reputational damage – both for the club and its chairman.

In his first extended interview, Tiger put the issues down to several large costs which were either unplanned or far higher than he had foreseen.

“There was a lot of underestimating of the expenses,” he said.

“There’s a lot of things, like when we started the training ground it (was going to) cost that much, but in the end it’s not what we estimated.

“We can’t be in the middle and stop, but right now the training ground is around 90 per cent finished.

“That’s where some of the late payments came from.

“Or for example, we never had an under 23 team (before) and when you form a team, that is another huge expense – the players, the coaches.”

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Another sizeable issue has been the decision to halt the long-running arbitration proceedings with Kassam Stadium landlords Firoka over the service charge.

But while stopping it brings an end to the legal costs, the matter is not yet settled.

The biggest problem with the latest winding-up petition – the third of his short reign – was it came shortly after Tiger had reassured the club’s supporters’ trust there would be no more issues with HMRC.

It prompted OxVox to release a strongly-worded statement calling for “the club to be honest and open about the situation we find ourselves in”.

By way of explanation, Tiger said that while the payment was late, the U’s had notified HMRC it would be paid in full on January 16.

That went through as planned, but HMRC’s standard practices meant a winding-up petition was filed with the club five days earlier.

Tiger said: “When I said that we thought it should be OK.

“We paid it on exactly the date we agreed, but that is their procedure.

“I know that all the fans are very concerned. But from January we’re going to plan much better.”

The hope for United’s chief is with a better grasp on the costs involved, the club will be run more smoothly.

Part of the cashflow trouble has been attributed to tighter financial controls on moving funds internationally – a problem given Tiger is based in Thailand, fellow board member Erick Thohir is in Indonesia and the club’s holding company is registered in Singapore.

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“I think bringing in money is more difficult from every country,” Tiger said. “There’s more process, more documents required. That is from the banking system. It’s not something you can fix the next day, it takes the long-term.”

United’s owner indicated the level of payments coming in would increase, but when asked whether there was a need to have a pot of money in the UK which could be used in emergencies, he said: “No, I don’t think so.”

Another area of unease among supporters has been the addition of board members based overseas who are yet to be seen.

The highest-profile is Thohir, a former president of Inter Milan who is reportedly in the process of selling his 30 per cent stake in the Italian giant, which is worth in the region of £130million.

He is involved in running a campaign in Indonesia ahead of April’s presidential elections in Indonesia.

Tiger said: “We talk to each other a lot. He’s experienced and says how we should move.

“Of course the man at the front of the scenes is myself.”

But while Tiger insists he is expecting to have a long involvement with the club, when it came to his role he acknowledged “that can change going forward.”

He added: “I’m here for the long-term. I really want to build this club to be bigger in a higher-level league.

“That is what we’re going to do and that’s what we’re doing now.”