A MAJOR drive aimed at boosting business involvement with Oxford United has been launched.

United in Business has been set up to bring local companies and entrepreneurs together under the umbrella of the club with a host of specially themed events, seminars and networking opportunities being arranged for members.

It is the brainchild of Paul Charles, director of the club’s Stonesfield-based away shirt sponsor, Isinglass Consulting. He believes there is a wealth of smaller businesses like his which would like to become involved with the club without having to make a huge financial commitment.

He said: “There was an obvious missing link between the club and local businesses and this is an opportunity to bring the connection to life.’’ Mr Charles first engaged with the U’s when the Stonesfield Strikers junior football team he helps run formed a community partnership with the club.

Then, last season, Isinglass won the competition to sponsor the team’s purple shirts used for away fixtures. The company has now renewed its sponsorship for a five-figure sum.

Mr Charles added: “Over the last 12 months we have had the luxury of being involved behind the scenes and we have really enjoyed the experience.

“As a result, we asked ourselves what do the business community want? It was creating an environment to come together and do business together as well as putting something back into the club.

“Oxford United is incredibly well supported and it would be great for business people to be involved.”

United in Business will kick off with the unveiling of the U’s fixtures list for the 2014/15 season on June 18 followed by the launch of the new team strip on July 10 where potential members of the new organisation will be urged to “sign” for the club.

It costs £1,000 to be a member, with the proceeds going to the Oxford United community Trust. The first 23 to sign will get a free full page advert in the match programme. Organisers hope 50 businesses will join in the coming season.

Club commercial director Tony Davison said: “We are a community club and the business community is very much part of it. Some of the events will be business-minded and there will be others such as golf days.

“But there will be a committee with the businesses deciding what the next event will be.”

Anyone interested in United in Business should call Mr Davison on 01865 337512 or email tdavison@oufc.co.uk

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