OXFORD United’s finance chief says the club are ‘on the road’ to becoming sustainable after their latest accounts showed a profit.

The U’s were £1.5m in the black for the year ending June 2020, thanks largely to the sales of Gavin Whyte to Cardiff City and Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu to Brentford.

It is the first time since 2017 United have turned a profit, although they benefitted from their shareholders pumping in £3.3m to reduce the amount of third-party creditors.

U’s finance director Tim Davies said: “We’re not quite (sustainable), but we are on the road there.

“Most football league clubs have got wealthy benefactors behind them, so to extend that we’re trying to make ourselves a club where we don’t rely on the shareholders.

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“If we invest in our academy, keep developing our own players, grow our income and keep our costs under control hopefully we’ll get there as soon as we can.”

United are more reliant on shareholders while they remain tenants at the Kassam Stadium, where their 25-year lease expires in 2026.

The U’s pay substantial rent at Grenoble Road and only bring in gate receipts, making it a hurdle on the path to sustainability.

Davies said: “It’s certainly a lot more difficult without owning the stadium.

“Our rental agreement does hurt us slightly compared to other clubs and we don’t get some of the income we would do.

“If we owned the stadium that would really help us, but then you put the club into more debt because stadiums don’t come cheap.”

United gained an asset after taking over the long-term lease for Oxford Sports Park, their training ground, in late 2019.

Davies added: “It’s the first time there’s a solid base for the team to grow from.”

The sales of Whyte in July 2019 and Fosu and Baptiste six months later formed much of the £4.4m brought in from player trading.

An increase in the playing budget was one of the few areas where costs increased, in a season that saw the U’s reach the Sky Bet League One play-off final, the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.

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Davies said: “Part of our philosophy was increasing the playing budget to bring success on the pitch.

“Bring the youngsters through, hopefully make some money on player trading because that helps balance the books.”

The accounts for this year will better show the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which only affected United from March 2020.

But Davies revealed the club would have lost ‘at least half a million’ in the time covered by these accounts, and ‘probably £2.6m overall’.

It means United will make a loss for the year ending June 2021, while they have had to rely more on the board this season.

But the sale of Rob Dickie to QPR last summer, Premier League bailout cash and fans watching on iFollow will boost the U’s.

The club posted losses of £4.2m in 2018/19, and just over £2m the previous year.