Both reports suggest that former board member Erick Thohir, who is also the former owner of Inter Milan, is leading the proposed takeover of the League One promotion hopefuls.
Indonesian Investors Target Oxford United for Proposed Takeover
Change of Ownership Led By Former Inter Milan Owner
A group of Indonesian investors are believed to have made an offer for a 51 per cent share in Oxford United. According to the Oxford Mail, a transaction of the club could be complete within the coming weeks, with a business plan to be submitted to the Football League.
The current board at Oxford consists of chairman Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth, German Horst Geicke and Indonesia-based Anindya Bakrie. The latter became a director in April 2019 and has connections to former board member, Thohir.
Bakrie has also worked alongside Thohir in Indonesia, running a television network. Thohir joined the board in November 2018 but left his role at the club in October 2019 after being appointed Indonesia’s ‘state-owned enterprises minister.’
The 50-year-old also previously owned DC United in the MLS and was involved with NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. He held his position as owner of Serie A side Inter Milan from 2013 and 2019.
Talks are close to completion, according to both reports, but they are finalising negotiations with ‘Tiger’, who took control of the club in February 2018.
Neither Oxford nor Thanakarnjanasuth have made a comment regarding the proposed takeover at this stage.
What the Takeover Could Mean for Oxford United
Oxford are currently eighth in League one and find themselves just two points outside the playoffs. Promotion to the Championship has been a goal for the club for several years and the U’s came close as recently as last season where they lost in the playoff final.
Since Thanakarnjanasuth took control of the club just over three years ago, the U’s have established themselves as a sustainable League One club. A business model of bringing in young talents from the lesser leagues and selling them for a significant profit has worked for some time, and was a successful strategy under previous ownership, also.
Despite recently reporting a loss of £2.3 million, the sale of key players has helped that figure remain as low as it has. In the January 2020 transfer window, the club sold Tariqe Fosu and Shandon Baptiste to Brentford for a reported £3 million. While it depleted the playing squad, the income ultimately helped the club through the coronavirus pandemic.
Another key attribute is the stadium issue. The club’s lease on the Kassam Stadium expires in 2026 and many supporters have been enquiring about the possibility of a new stadium, or even purchasing the current site, for some time. Rent on the current site is extortionate and owning their stadium could be a hugely beneficial investment going forward.
Under the proposed new ownership, there would be a significant financial increase and finding a solution to the ongoing stadium problem would be an easier solution.