On the field, a winless run continued for Oxford United as the U’s played out two goalless draws this week, with both fixtures coming at Grenoble Road.
Off the field, the U’s have had to deal with a double injury blow and the loss of a former player, while chairman Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth has revealed how much the club has lost financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Two Goalless Draws, Further Injury Worries and Financial Update
Two Goalless Draws for Oxford United
Starting with matters on the field, league leaders Peterborough United were the visitors to Grenoble Road on Tuesday night and were fresh off the back of six successive victories.
Both sides created a few goalscoring opportunities in what was a fairly even game and although both goalkeepers were forced into making saves, neither side really threatened to open the deadlock.
It was a similar story on Saturday as the U’s and Charlton Athletic saw their game end in a stalemate. Similarly to the Peterborough result, only a handful of chances for either side was created, with the best chance coming for the Addicks in the 94th minute when Alex Rodriguez Gorrin conceded a penalty. However, Jack Stevens denied Ronnie Schwartz to earn a fair share of the spoils.
At the start of the week, it would have been hard to predict the outcome of the two matches. Posh were the in-form side and top of the league before their visit so a point was probably a decent result, but victory over Charlton would have seen the U’s leapfrog their opponents in the table, so it may feel like two points dropped.
Either way, the U’s have failed to win in their last six games in all competitions and have netted just once during that run, ahead of the A420 derby away at Swindon Town and a trip to table-topping Hull City next week. Oxford United are now five points off the playoffs following their two goalless draws.
Further Injury Worries
On Monday, U’s boss Karl Robinson confirmed that striker Sam Winnall and midfielder James Henry would be ruled out of the upcoming fixtures. Henry has been ruled out until Easter, while Winnall picked up an ankle injury just eight minutes into a substitute appearance against MK Dons.
It got worse on Tuesday as both Elliot Lee and Sam Long had to leave the field against the Posh. Luton Town loanee Lee picked up a knee injury in the first half while Long picked up a recurring hamstring injury. Although Lee could make a return as early as next week, but Long looks set to join the others on the sidelines for a bit longer.
Oxford United Chairman Update
On Wednesday, U’s chairman Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth delivered an update on the club’s finances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Tiger said: “The bottom line is that we believe the pandemic has cost the club just over £2.3 million.
“That is a huge figure and I don’t want to go into the finer details but it does need breaking down a little. I must also stress that the final figure will be much lower than that because it does not take into account money that has come the other way.
“Over half that figure is in lost gate receipts and remember that it is not just 2020/21 that was affected. The team was in great form at the end of last season and there were still some very big home games to play in the league. We estimate it cost us close to £400,000 when those games disappeared.
“Of course that does not include a home play-off against Portsmouth, which would have been sold out, or the final at Wembley where we would have taken maybe 35,000 people for a showcase game and who knows what difference that sort of support might have made?
“This season we estimate we will lose around £1.4 million from lost ticket sales.”
“Those were not because of the pandemic – only Rob left us after the COVID lockdown happened. We have invested that back into the playing budget and continue to build a side we believe can end this season strongly and go from strength to strength.”
Tributes to ‘Mad Dog’ Mickey Lewis
Finances, injuries and results pale into insignificance when there is news of a death, particularly of one as young and as well thought of as Oxford legend, Mickey Lewis, who passed away over the weekend aged 56.
‘Mad Dog’ joined the U’s in 1988 from Derby County. The midfielder, who also covered in defence, turned out 351 times in over ten years at the club and was part of the 1996 promotion-winning side.
Having retired in 1999 through injury, Lewis ended his 28-year association with the club in 2015, in which he held several positions including caretaker manager, youth team coach and assistant manager.