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Archive - Thursday, 24 September 1998
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Branson: Why it's no to United
Oxford United fans harbouring slender hopes that tycoon Richard Branson might emerge as the saviour of the cash-strapped club have had their hopes dashed.
The Virgin chief said he had no plans to become involved with the U's "in the forseeable future."
Speaking after a signing of his autobiography 'Losing My Virginity' at Oxford's Virgin Megastore, the 48-year-old empire-builder denied that he had ever had any formal meetings with the club regarding his possible involvement with them.
Although some sources have suggested that no fewer than five separate meetings have taken place between them and Branson, the multi-millionaire - who, with his teenage son Sam is a regular figure at the Manor Ground - refuted this.
He told me: "I wouldn't describe them as meetings - there have been approaches, yes, but there is no point in my becoming involved unless I could play a part in it. "Commercially, I can see why people do it, but it is unlikely that I would become involved with a team away from where we live. Up until now, my kids have tended to spend the weekend at home in Kidlington and we go to the occasional match at the Manor."
And he added: "If we were to become involved with United, we would want to play an active part and that is unlikely in the forseeable future.
"I just don't have the time to give it my full commitment and I think the fans would expect the club's owners to have their heart and soul in it. At the moment I am just too stretched, in terms of time."
The Virgin boss also revealed that his personal friends have continually urged him to take an interest in United's affairs.
"A lot of my friends are fans of the club and they're always battering at my door about this," he smiled.
And he stressed that his support for the U's would continue.
"We're all crossing our fingers and hoping we can keep the fight going," he said.
But for now, any Branson involvement with Oxford United will be strictly as a fan - and not a saviour.
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