Pre Playoff Update

4th May 2024

With so many reasons to be optimistic around the club it is perhaps understandable that the more battle hardened Oxford supporters were looking cautiously over their shoulders for the next kick in the back!

Our fate was no longer in our own hands on the field and perhaps it felt a little that way off the field too. The stadium bid is being considered by the planning department and local politicians appear to be either coming out in support, delaying while claiming neutrality and a small number, outright opposing. It is not our place to tell people where to vote in local elections and by remaining outside of that debate we have been able to have frank and hopefully meaningful talks with many of those councillors.

Political choices are both personal and private so pre election we were hard at work speaking to councillors and making sure their policies on the stadium were spoken about in public.

The last few weeks have been another period of frantic activity and what with sneaking away for a week’s holiday and so much to do, much of which needing to remaining confidential, we have not really been able to report much back.

And then came Exeter. After a rollercoaster of a season it was fitting that this nerve shredding spectacle was laid out on the last day of the season. Like many I made a weekend of it and whatever happens in our next two games, Exeter will go down as one of those magical weekends we remember for years to come. The tension, the constant refreshing of phones for results elsewhere. The team performing how we know they can. Tiger sneaking out of the directors’ box and coming to mingle with fans in the away end. The joy when old friends did us favours elsewhere. Des fist pumping. Then being joined by the firecracker that is Owen Dale in the pub after the game who came to share the moment with supporters. He shook our hands and thanked us and we thanked him.

There have been some turning points this season both good and bad and both on and off the field. The team have responded in the right way to a painful drop off mid season and since the fans forum the club have continued their improved communication with supporters and with the supporters trust. Ryan Maher has arrived at the club as our new head of media and PR with energy and ideas and took the time to contact us as one of his priorities. We are already working with him on a number of small projects and his infectious energy and manner have no doubt helped communications with ourselves and other supporters groups and helped The Yellow Army and others really lift the atmosphere at games. These things do not happen by accident and a lot of hard work has gone into turning a somewhat strained, deflated and disheartened atmosphere between supporters and club into a united group that has real belief. The work is not done and there is plenty of progress to be made both at games and in communication away from them but we are two games from Wembley, the sun is shining (for a short time) and if all else fails…..we will always have Exeter!

We are aware of some issues in the online booking of 1st leg tickets and having spoken to the club immediately it was heartening to see them act quickly to try and deal with any issues. Tense times trying to secure your seat but progress seems to have been made. I am also painfully aware of the number of people who missed out on away leg tickets. I, like many, was primed and ready in plenty of time but missed out on tickets. We are speaking to the club about how to improve this situation and of course points systems and other solutions will be discussed. Sadly for many of us this won’t help but with such excitement around the Exeter game there were always going to be disappointed supporters. I’m sure many more worthy than I missed out and we share your pain.

As mentioned earlier the work on the stadium continues unabated. Your responses to the calls to action over councillors had an immediate impact and we continue to press them to move this project forward. We continue to work hard to make sure every issue is covered and we hope to have another very visible statement to the local councils at the play off 1st leg on Saturday. Finding the balance of what can and can’t be released is tricky. It is especially tricky when dealing with such a large and emotive project, councillors and business people and a fanbase rightfully eager for news. As always we have worked closely with the club and on the strict principle that we would rather do the right thing and it go unnoticed than set the project back. We would love to be able to speak more about the work going on in the background but rest assured your opinions and our cause is being pressed in the strongest terms to all the people that matter. It is time to relax and enjoy the extended end to the season but no doubt we will be calling on you all again soon. For now though a massive thank you to all members and supporters for the support and hard work. They hear you loud and clear.

I’ve often said football to me is about the people and shared experiences. That was never more evident than last weekend at Exeter. Thank you to the fabulous friends I was with and the amazing people I chatted to over that weekend. Exhausting and exhilarating!

As always your support, energy and hard work is what makes OxVox and your efforts have been the driving force behind much of the success regarding progress with the stadium. The controlled and reasoned debate over the stadium stands in contrast to the scatter gun approach and constantly negative methods that the antis have used to try to show supporters and this project in a poor light. We are winning this debate with the people that matter.

Time to focus on football for a few days and come what may, this club feels like it will be in a better place at the start of next season.

Loud and proud on Saturday……..COYY!

Paul Peros