Committee election – Candidate profiles

24th Feb 2016

Here are the profile statements from the nine candidates for the 2016 OxVox Committee election

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order of surname.


Colin Barson

CB Business Photo

I am the 59 year old Managing Director of an international architectural lighting company, running the UK division, and a lifelong Oxford United fan.

I have extensive experience of large commercial property projects, including sports stadia, and my company have in recent years designed and supplied many major projects such as Wembley Stadium and the Etihad Stadium, including the award winning Manchester City Football Academy and are currently working on the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. I have top level contacts within the major architectural companies and developers in the UK, including those specialising in sports stadia. As a football fan, this is an area I take a particular interest in and would love to see Oxford United playing in a first class venue of their own. In business, I am a very competitive person, always hitting targets and looking towards the next level, and don’t believe failure is an option, which is something I carry into my personal life too.

I have followed Oxford United since the 1960s and seen the club play competitive football at over 130 grounds in all of the top five divisions. I’m a North Stand season ticket holder, although I have occasionally watched games from the corporate area when my company has sponsored matches. I’m equally at home in those areas, or having a pre match beer in the Blackbird. Watching the club for so long I have made numerous friends from all walks of life and many of them have turned into lifelong friends. I am deeply proud to be a member of the Oxford United family, even though it’s sometimes been pretty painful!

I would bring to the OxVox Board my wide ranging business knowledge and contacts and in particular my experience of football stadia and their development. I would bring hard work and integrity, together with an ability to communicate at all levels. I would also bring a strong dislike for Wiltshire ham, robins, and magic roundabouts!!!


 

Simon Bradbury

Simon Bradbury

Twelve months ago, I took the decision to stand down from the committee after 7 years. That decision was to seek more time with my family. It became apparent that Jeremy, a good friend, would need a lot of support over the following months as transition took place. I was more than happy to “stick around” & offer that. The Trust means alot to me, I couldn’t just walk away when it needed my support. I believe, my knowledge was gratefully received & what was supposed to be a few months of handover, just continued throughout the year.

I, in effect, became an unofficial committee member, continuing to do what I had done previously & on hand to Jem, on what he’ll vouch, is a daily basis, calling on my knowledge & experiences. The work Jeremy has done, should not go unnoticed, his tireless effort should be applauded. With such an unbelievable workload, I took responsibility of a number of Trust related tasks, taking ownership of communication & increased our social media presence significantly, enabling the Trust to be accessible & prominent on social media platforms (Twitter). It’s success has reached out to fans across the globe, taking memberships from people who didn’t previously have interaction. Membership over the last 12 months has been quite remarkable.

I was also heavily involved in our new website, built by T3D Design. Anyone who has seen the new website trevorl187.sg-host.com should be delighted with the fresh look & modern interface. It will be a key area of development, with polls & more interaction intended.

During 2015, the committee had to call on the experiences about the Community Right To Bid, without doubt, the Trust’s greatest achievement. Due for renewal, it’s something that should be renewed, especially as ownership of ground remains unresolved. Other Trusts continue to seek advice, Northampton Town being one.

The Austria trip. Along with my brothers who work for SC Wiener Neustadt, OxVox were integral to the organisation of the trip with the club. Should success follow this season, no small part will be attributed to those five days where club management, players and supporters were bonded together in a quite remarkable way. The foundations of being together were really formed.

Finally, the aspiration of this Trust, should be to explore the invitation from Mr Eales to look at Supporter Representation. I would like us all to achieve that.

Best Wishes

Simon


 

Matt Cavill

Matthew Cavill

I’m Matthew Cavill and I have had the pleasure and privilege to serve on the OxVox committee for 5 years. I have been an avid Yellows fan for 35 years and started to go regularly as the U’s had successive promotions up to the top flight. During those heady days I was lucky enough to have the best Birthday ever when the day before I turned 9 we won the Milk Cup Final at Wembley.

I haven’t missed a home game in over 20 years and prior to that I only missed one in the previous 5 years. Missing that one match got me into the Oxford Mail as my School threatened to expel me if I didn’t miss a Yellows match and go on a school trip! All these years on I can safely say I learnt nothing on that school trip but supporting OUFC has given me everything. I also attend as many away matches as possible every season.

My passion for Oxford United doesn’t stop with the first team. Over the years I have regularly watched the reserves, Development Squad, Oxfordshire Senior Cup and the youth team games. I take particular pleasure from watching the youth team play as there is a fantastic feeling having seen players like Callum O’Dowda (and many others) develop and progress to becoming first years pros and playing for the first team. I strongly recommend coming along to watch the youth team as yet again this season we have some very exciting youngsters… Canice Carroll, George Jeacock, Jordan Graham & Lewis Hayden among many others.

Back in the promotion winning 1995/96 season I won a Central TV competition to be the OUFC Manager for the day. It was an unforgettable experience and after I got my first coaching badge I started coaching for the club on their community soccer courses in the summer of 1996. I was very fortunate to coach alongside club legends Peter Rhodes-Brown, Les Taylor and Jeremy Charles. I stressed to all the kids the importance of following their local side and did my utmost to get as many to support OUFC… although I’m sure I was always more excited than they were when the first team players came along to do Q&A’s!

Around 15 years ago I was part of the Yellows fans of the week on Soccer AM. I was very proud to represent the club on such a prestigious Football show. I spent most of the day trying to convince one of the guests that the best move for his playing career was joining the mighty Yellows. However I think Frank Lampard did alright for himself even if he never did get to play for the best team in the world!!

On the committee I have been very much an ‘ideas man’ and have come up with various ideas for OxVox and the club themselves. In my day job I have worked in sales and marketing for over 20 years and have continually come up with and passed on my ideas for all aspects of promoting the club whether it’s been to get more fans through the turnstiles to ideas for new club merchandise. Most recently I helped instigate getting the club to sell their kit and merchandise through the Topsport shops throughout the county. I also came up with the idea to advertise OxVox with the advertising board under the score board at the stadium.

I hope that I will be able to continue to represent the supporters of the club I have lived and breathed all my life.


 

Myles Francis

I have been a supporter of Oxford United for over 30 years and was a founder member of OxVox. More recently, I have been a member of the OxVox Committee, taking on the two officer roles of Vice-Chair and Treasurer simultaneously despite living more than 60 miles from Oxford. I stood down last year for personal reasons, but I am now keen to get re-involved with OxVox and I hope that my history of taking on key roles with the committee demonstrates my commitment.

I am a strong supporter of the Supporters’ Trust movement and believe that OxVox has a vital role to play as a “critical friend” of the club. Key to this is a position of independence; a supporters’ trust must be able to challenge and question the club on key issues at all times. This is equally important in the “good times” as well as bad. A strong Supporters’ Trust should be well placed to identify and challenge situations which may not be in the best interests of the football club and its supporters. It has been said one of the factors which allowed the situation at Portsmouth to deteriorate so badly was the lack of a Supporters’ Trust to adequately hold the club to account.

One of the key issues facing the club at the moment is that of the stadium. My belief is that, having been made aware of the potential for a new stadium at Water Eaton, a full examination of the pros and cons of such a move, alongside a similar examination of remaining at the Kassam, should be carried out by OxVox on an independent basis. The decision to stay or move has significant bearing on the club’s long-term sustainability and any decision should only be taken after full consideration of all available information, and taken solely in the best interests of the football club.

Currently I sit as a supporters’ representative on the Kassam Stadium Safety Advisory Group, a body comprising the key stakeholders involved with safety issues in and around the stadium. This role has given me great insight into the levels of maintenance required on the stadium and the potential cost implications of such works. Vital information for the studies mentioned above.

If I were to be elected, I would be standing for a strong supporters’ trust with a focus on the key issues facing the club we all love.


 

Trevor Lambert

Trevor Lambert

I was one of a small group of fans who set up OxVox back in 2002 and I chaired the Trust for a number of years. OxVox was one of the earliest Trusts set up under Supporters Direct and I’m proud to have played a part in many initiatives ranging from the signboards on the South Stand commemorating significant dates in the club’s history, to lobbying the Conference authorities for a points deduction reinstatement, to the setting up of the 12th Man Fund which raised over £50,000 for the club. Prior to that, I acted as secretary to the FOUL group of supporters in the dark days of the late 1990s and early 2000s. And for what it’s worth, I’ve been a supporter of the Yellows home and away since the early 1980s.

BUT THAT’S ALL HISTORY and the future is infinitely more important.

I’m newly enthused by the recent growth in the membership of OxVox under Jem as Chairman, and I believe the relationship which is developing between OxVox and OUFC under Darryl Eales is better than it has ever been.

In recent months I’ve been helping Jem, Michael, Simon, T3D Design  and the Trust committee at their request with practical issues, focusing mainly on improving the accuracy of the membership database and ensuring the Trust is able to communicate directly and regularly with its members, using the IT and comms skills from my day job as an Oxford University researcher and survey project director. We hope this has improved and increased direct communication to members considerably, for example enabling us to ask members for any questions that we can ask on their behalf, directly to the relevant OUFC staff. Where members are not receiving email correspondence, we are working hard to rectify any glitches or contact members by post instead.

So why do I want to stand again for your Committee?

Well, I think it would be right to be involved in a more formal basis by re-joining the Committee, rather than helping as an outside advisor. My intention if elected would be to help with the smooth running of the Trust in any way I can, offering Jem and the other officers of the Trust my full support as they focus on the vital long term issues which will confront OUFC in the near future.

Wembley ticket sales in recent days evidence the fantastic potential of Oxfordshire’s only professional football club. The Yellows are back! The Club is doing great work in regaining its role in the local community. Everywhere one looks in the lower leagues there are challenges to success, but there are some hugely encouraging examples – Swansea perhaps being the most obvious example of owners and fans working together to achieve potential. I believe that OUFC can aspire to a similar level of success and that OxVox can make a huge contribution.

There are some excellent candidates coming forward this year with a wide range of skills and backgrounds to strengthen the Trust. If you vote for me, fine and I thank you – but whoever you vote for, please exercise your vote!

Thanks for reading this!


 

Kate Longworth 

Kate Longworth

I would love to bring my experience and enthusiasm to the OxVox committee. In my work in East Oxford schools I’m often told by younger Us that I’m not a proper supporter since my season ticket is in the South Stand as opposed to the East. If I were to move, though, I would miss the extremely vocal commentary of two children who sit behind me with their grandparents – it’s as accurate, witty and insightful as the best of the BBC.

I don’t think that the current buzz is solely about results – I believe that it’s also driven by the work that Darryl Eales and his team are doing to boost a sense of connection in the community. I’m head of fundraising at The Art Room and a Trustee at Film Oxford, both charities helping children in East Oxford facing really challenging circumstances. You will all know I’m sure that most of East Oxford is in the top 20% for deprivation in England – in fact a lot of it is in the top 5%. But despite the challenges it faces this is a proud community in which hundreds of voluntary organisations work tirelessly to help others – where a group of residents turned a deserted tip into a nature reserve, and in which the Blackbird was given an overhaul by regulars donating their skills. The children we see have in many cases never been into the centre of Oxford – for them the jewel in Oxford’s crown is not the ‘dreaming spires’ but the Kassam.

I don’t see any conflict between the business needs of the charities I work with and the work they do, and am as dedicated to their strategic development as I am to the community they serve. I will bring skills from a varied professional background to the OxVox Committee, in sales, marketing, communications and fundraising, in both the corporate and charity sectors. Most importantly I’ve spent as much time on the shop floor as I have in the boardroom – I know from experience that listening is often more important than speaking.

I love Oxford United and feel a huge sense of pride in the club. I never, ever leave before the final whistle has blown and the team have been applauded off the pitch, whatever the result. I would love to bring the same commitment to the interests of Oxford’s passionate, positive and proudly vocal supporters.


 

Michael North

Michael North

I have served on the OxVox committee since 2010, holding the post of Membership Secretary for the last three years. As a long standing committee member I can see how the relationship between OxVox and Oxford United has improved since Jem Faulkner took over as chair. This has reflected in me being kept busy in this role, sending out many more membership packs as our members has grown to its highest level ever (apologies to those who had to wait a while!).

We also hold regular committee meetings, with just OxVox committee members as well as with other relevant OUFC officials. During these meetings we can all be open and frank with one another, and although we don’t always see eye to eye, we have a very democratic and positive outlook with the best interests of OxVox at the core.

The current committee have also recently tightened up on confidentially matters, where all committee members have to sign to state they will keep sensitive information confidential. This has again improved the trust between OxVox and OUFC.

I am also active in the Yellow Army and many of you will know me from my stall in the Manor Bar where I sell programmes, badges and other football memorabilia, donated by fans, before home games. Since I started volunteering to do this work I have raised over £12,000 in six years, including just over £2000 in this season so far. This money is donated to support the Youth and Community Trust as well as sponsoring some of the first team and youth players.

Through my work with OxVox and Yellow Army I can ensure that there are good lines of positive communication between both groups to ensure that work isn’t being duplicated, thus saving time and effort. This has also been made easier since Joe Nicholls started working full time for the Yellow Army.

This is an exciting time for OxVox and OUFC alike. There is lots of work going on behind the scenes, especially around the stadium, and with the good relationship between us, we are privy to sensitive information. Although we cannot always inform our members straight away, in case it compromises any deals, rest assured we will release the information as soon as we can. There is still plenty of work to do; I would very much like your support to ensure that I can continue to support OxVox in achieving even more success.

Thank you.

Michael North


 

Mark Sennett

Mark Sennett

I was chair of Oxvox for three years and was part of the committee for five years. Our key achievement during this period was being the first trust to successfully apply for a stadium to be listed as an asset of community value, which means OxVox has a right to bid on the Kassam Stadium. We saw membership levels reach their highest ever total, paid for club crests and the heritage boards to be installed at the stadium, launched the 12th Man and the Yellow Army (of which I was the treasurer). I also organised the Walk to Wycombe and the Dave Langan medal collection, which between them raised £12,000.

After taking a year off to recharge my batteries OxVox chair Jem Faulkner approached me about helping OxVox continue to look at the club’s future at the Kassam Stadium. I represented OxVox when Ian Lenagan commissioned a feasibility study for either purchasing the Kassam Stadium or potentially acquiring a new ground. I have strong relationships with Firoz Kassam, Firoka, heads of Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils and other key stakeholders. On the back of Jem’s request I’m excited to be standing for committee again with the view of me being elected to help drive forwards this process, which has gone quiet over recent months.

Should I be elected the aim is to create a full and transparent feasibility study of all stadium options and I believe my relationships with the key stakeholders and the extensive research I prepared for the previous board will prove important during this process. I passionately believe Oxford United or a trust protecting its interested needs to acquire a stadium in order to be sustainable not only in League 1 or 2 but even more so should we reach our ambition to return to the Championship.

During my time as chair we had quarterly members meetings on match days and I will be strongly proposing this returns should I be elected as we’ve not had one of these meetings since I stepped down 12 months ago. We were fortunate to attract directors/management to these and they provided OxVox members access to the people running their club and a chance to give feedback to OxVox about the Trust’s direction.

I strongly believe in an impartial, independent and strong supporters’ trust and this is what I will represent should I be elected.


 

Chloe Smart

Chloe is standing for the first time and is the youngest candidate to ever put themselves forward for election! As Chair of the Oxfordshire FA Youth Council she provides a voice for young people involved in football across the County. A qualified referee and an avid fan of OUFC she is also actively involved in the management committee of Oxford City Stars Ice Hockey Club. A volunteer in many local organisations, Chloe recently won the Oxfordshire Young Volunteer of the year award.