It seems it's time for another Oxford United panic with the news that Jim Rosenthal has resigned from the board with immediate effect. This, of course, follows the recent departure of Kelvin Thomas from his role as chairman. The Oxford Mail has described Rosenthal's resignation as 'a significant blow', while Yellows Forum is one step away from declaring a state of emergency following the news. But what does it really mean for the club?
This development would seem to be the latest in Ian Lenagan's reshaping of the club since he started taking a greater involvement during the summer and leaves Ian, Simon and Adrian Lenagan as the only remaining members of the Board. Lenagan, it seems, has chosen to implement changes at the club from top to bottom following last season's setback. With Lenagan now shaping the club as he wants it, are we now seeing an exodus of the Old Guard? If so, why? Is it at Lenagan's instigation, or do Kelvin Thomas and Jim Rosenthal disagree with the direction the club is being taken?
With so many questions unanswered, and in the absence of any official statement from the club, there is only very little information available to us ignorant fans to speculate on, so perhaps it is inevitable that baseless rumours will gain traction amongst the fanbase. However, I think we can infer a few things from the little information we have available. The timing and nature of the announcement, coupled with the wording of Rosenthal's statement, suggest that there has been a falling out of some sort.
While a tweet from Rosenthal's son Tom suggests a personal disagreement, the official statement sent out to local media suggests that perhaps the reasons are more serious, saying “I don't believe it is in the interest of the club to air my reasons at this time”. This suggests that his reasons for quitting may be directly related to the welfare of the club. Nevertheless, the idea that something serious enough to make a director quit the club altogether is better off not being shared with the fans is disconcerting. Another interesting point from Rosenthal's statement (and this may just be me nitpicking) was that he expressed continued support for “Chris Wilder and the team” but not to Lenagan or the club's management. A parting shot, perhaps?
Whatever the reasons for Rosenthal's departure, it now seems clear that this club is changing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if the result is that the club benefits from it, but there is no doubt that this is an unsettled time for the club. Further changes are likely in the future – for example, Chris Wilder continues to be linked with other jobs – but something needed to change after last season, because the club was beginning to stagnate. For now we just have to sit tight, keep watching closely and hope that Lenagan's revolution brings positive results for the club.