SINGHA Beer’s new partnership with Oxford United looks set to go well beyond a simple shirt sponsorship deal – with the Thai firm in discussions to buy a minority stake in the club.

The initial commercial deal was confirmed on Wednesday, but it is now clear the move to put their logo on the new U’s shirt, which was revealed yesterday, was just the start.

Pavin Bhirombhakdi, from the family who own the beer brand, toured the Kassam Stadium with United chairman Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth and is interested in buying a share in the club.

He said: “At first, we were talking about the commercial side.

“We have sponsored a lot of football clubs in the past ten years in England already, but this is a special one because I have got involved with the shareholding structure also.”

He added: “I think you have to give credit to Tiger because the commercial deal comes first.

“Basically, I think the involvement of ourselves – not just as a sponsor but also for the development of the club – is the most important thing.

“With the system that Tiger is implementing with the staff and the team that are coming in this season I think there’s a good potential.

“It’s not a hobby any more – we don’t see it as a toy.

“We see it as a business and we are slowly growing it.”

Singha, who was educated in England, has experience in football beyond sponsorship deals with the likes of Chelsea – the company own Thai Premier League side Bangkok Glass.

Tiger, who has known the Singha family for several years, sees the prospect of close ties as beneficial both financially and in terms of expertise.

The Thai businessman, who bought just over 90 per cent of United in February, said: “It will strengthen the club for sure in terms of finances, but he also owns a team in the Thai Premier League.

“So with his knowledge and passion – not just in football but the non-football side as well – we’re going to build a club together.

“I have been thinking about this for a while.

“I was thinking ‘how are we going to strengthen the club?’

“If you have a person like Pavin being a part of it, I think our club will be very strong.

“We looked at so many options, but Singha are a global comp-any.”