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Chairman's Message

9 September 2015

Robbie Cowling on long term thinking.

Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following message:-

We love you Col U, we do.

Like a lot of men, I find ‘Love’ to be a four letter word that I don’t like to use too often. Until it comes to football that is. I fully understand what it is like to stand on the terraces and to love a football club as a fan. 

I know how painful defeat is and how much more painful it becomes when the banter starts once you return to work on a Monday following yet another defeat. Like most pains, you just want a pill to make it go away and in football, the over the counter pill of choice is to sack the manager. If that doesn’t work, then a serious operation is required to have the board removed.

After nine years of owning a football club, I just don’t buy into either of those treatments as a quick fix. Sure we’ve seen some miracle cures like Bournemouth and Swansea, and who wouldn’t want to follow in their footsteps. 

However, eight years ago, Boston, Chester, Darlington, Hereford, Lincoln, Macclesfield, Tranmere and Torquay were all league clubs who have currently lost their league status. And they all took plenty of pills.

In fact, I find it somewhat offensive when I receive a letter from a supporter of our club asking me to sack the manager. I have received such letters for every one of my managers to date and they usually follow the same pattern where their first request is that I grow a pair and then use my new found courage to dismiss someone from their job.

And after just a few league games this season, two Chairmen in League One, who clearly have larger gonads than I do, have courageously, (according to some of our fans), sacked their managers. Knowing these Chairmen, I doubt either of them felt they were being courageous but just felt they were doing the best thing for their clubs.

So what is the remedy for Colchester United? Well, a quick health check will show that the club is in a relatively healthy state considering its physique. At first team level, it is one of a few clubs who are competing in League One with an average home gate of around 4000 whilst playing attractive football with a very young squad that contains a high number of home grown players. 

At academy level, and despite so many of the U21s being in the first team squad, the U21s are currently top of their league. The U18s, despite so many of their players playing up in the U21s, have won their last three games on the trot and below that, the club has a Cat Two academy that is as good if not better than anyone else’s.

I very much doubt that the first team would do any better if I had a ‘sack the manager’ mentality but I know for certain that we could not have gone from having one of the worst youth set ups to one of the best in such a short time without our holistic approach. 

No one could have predicted the success of the Premier League and that success is a real game changer for smaller clubs like Colchester United. Fortunately, we took steps six years ago which I believe will secure this club’s future for many years to come. 

Of course I understand that most of the fans don’t really care if the U21s are top of the league or if they didn’t exist at all - they just want the first team to do well. But as the owner, I love the club differently than the fans. Colchester United is my baby and I care and fear for its long term future.

I was brought up to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough to achieve it. I can assure you all that I have very high expectations for Colchester United and I place very high demands on all of my staff to achieve them. However, I also have a realistic view on what it will take to get us there.


There are no ‘sack the manager’ pills in my cabinet and the last time I checked, I already had a pair.

Yes, the last three years have been difficult and the next few years won’t be easy either. But I am happy with the way I invest my time, effort and money in the managerial staff we have at Colchester United so if you are thinking of writing to me about my manager’s future, please save your stamps.

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