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Thomas: American adventure makes sense
Oxford United depart for their pre-season tour to the United States today confident it is money well spent.
It is the second successive summer the squad will have visited New England, building on a link with hosts Seacoast United. Chris Wilder ’s side will play three friendly matches during the ten-day trip before their return on August 1.
It has attracted some criticism from supporters, who argue the money would be better spent on strengthening the playing squad.
But Kelvin Thomas , who helped set up the link before stepping down as United’s chairman this month, pointed to commercial ties which cut the costs below a similar trip in Europe, or even elsewhere in the British Isles.
“The reality is it’s cheaper than going to Scotland, Ireland or Spain,” said Thomas.
“With our partnerships and relationship with Seacoast it works out cheaper, so it makes economic sense as well – I don’t see a negative to it.
“I think fewer fans can go and see it, I understand that, but that’s why we have a decent local pre-season programme with a couple of big games.”
Such a long distance tour is unusual for a club in npower League Two, which brings added benefits. As well as boosting the squad’s morale, it can play a role in attracting signings over the next few weeks.
The travelling squad will include three triallists – Alex Evans, Ryan Tafazoli and Courtney Harris – who impressed Wilder in games last week.
Thomas said: “It’s a good trip, the players and staff are all very positive about it.
“It’s something that’s a bit different, I know there were players who were attracted to that when they signed for us last summer.
“It’s not the be all and end all – they’re not going to join because they get to go to America – but it was a tick in the box.”
United’s opening game of the tour is tomorrow night, when they play Seacoast United Mariners (12 midnight BST).
DAVID Pritchard will be covering the tour from where he will provide regular updates. Follow him on twitter @OxfordMailOUFC or visit www.oxfordmail.co.uk.