Mark Ashton: Oxford United chief seeks 'no-excuse environment'

Kassam Stadium
Oxford won just seven of their 23 home League Two games last season

Oxford United chief executive Mark Ashton has said it is his job to "produce a no-excuse environment" at the League Two club next season.

The U's, managed by Michael Appleton, are having their Kassam Stadium pitch replaced by a semi-synthetic surface.

"The pitch was not an excuse but it was a factor and my job is to remove the excuses," Ashton told BBC Radio Oxford.

"We're trying to produce a no-excuse environment where the manager, players and staff have to deliver."

Ashton has compared the pitch to what is being laid at the Ricoh Arena, which is home to Coventry and Premiership rugby side Wasps.

It is hoped the surface will be finished in time for Oxford to host the Sky Blues in a friendly on 1 August.

The Kassam Stadium - what does the future hold?
July 2012 - Oxford United plan to buy Kassam Stadium with London Welsh
December 2012 - U's assistant Mickey Lewis criticises the state of the pitch after their 2-0 FA Cup victory over Accrington Stanley
January 2013 - Oxford United and London Welsh in Kassam Stadium bid talks
January 2014 - London Welsh plan Kassam Stadium exit

"Just after the Christmas period we saw the pitch deteriorate quite badly, so we knew we had to do something," said Ashton.

"We did struggle at home and if we had turned a small percentage of defeats or draws into wins we would've been competing around the play-offs."

The ground, which is owned by a company belonging to the the club's former owner Firoz Kassam, is also used by rugby union team London Welsh.

Ashton was coy when asked who was funding the new pitch.

"I'd love to tell you but it's commercially sensitive," said. "We have agreements that we don't talk about these things specifically.

"Fans just need to understand we're happy with what we're doing and we're doing it for the best interests of the football club.

"The key thing is that we have the best playing surface in place for the start of the season."