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Club News

Great Expectations

7 August 2017

After the weekend opener against Accrington and ahead of two home games this week, chairman Robbie Cowling has penned the following words about his thoughts for the season ahead - and beyond.

Saturday's disappointing result, which I can assure everyone fell short of all of our expectations, was followed by my staff being subjected to abusive fan behaviour that went beyond what is an acceptable level.

No job should warrant personal abuse and Colchester United take these matters very seriously. Therefore anyone involved in any further personal abuse of my staff can expect the club to take the harshest possible action available to it. 

Colchester United, like all clubs with a proud long history, have enjoyed many ups and downs. In terms of its league standing, the highest up was the two years it enjoyed in the Championship and the lowest down was the two years it spent in the Conference league.

However, a small group of our fans set their expectations for Colchester United against its short lived high. That is of course unrealistically high. On the flip side, we should all be able to agree that it would be very unambitious for the club to base its own expectations on it lowest low.

So where should a football club set its aims and what should its expectations be?

Personally I believe that, on a game by game basis, a club should aim to win every game it plays in, with a determination to finish as high as it can, in whatever league it is competing in.

However, in terms of what I should expect it is my belief that, if all other things are equal, then the club's playing budget should be used to gauge it expectations. If I gave my manager the best playing budget in the league, then I think I should expect to finish top, and if I give him the lowest budget I should expect to finish bottom.

With the analysis that I have done, with the information that is available to me, this has proved to be the most accurate rule to use for predicting how well a team will do.

Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule and Colchester have a good history of outperforming it. Colchester's playing budget ranks about 78 out of the 92 teams that make up the professional leagues which is around 10th in League Two and, in every one of the last 12 years since I took over the club, we have finished above that mark.

It would be fair for someone else to set their expectations against the position that the club has historically finished and between 1958, when the four league format was first adopted and 2006 when I took over the club, it had averaged a finishing position of 69 (which proves my point about Colchester historically doing better than its budget).

In the 12 seasons that I have owned the club, it has averaged a finishing position of 56.

Going forward, I think it would be very unambitious for us to adopt an expectation of just meeting our average historical position and we haven't. I certainly don't want Colchester United to bounce around the lower divisions forever, nor do any of the staff at the club.

But before we can expect any more than that, we have to build a club that can justify a higher league status. Slowly but surely that is what we are doing.

Let me just clarify that statement; slowly but surely Colchester United are building a club that can set greater expectations for itself than 10th in League Two. How high we can build the club to raise our expectations and how long it will take I don't know, but we will always look to improve.

So we will go into every game this season trying to win it and we will compete to finish as high up the league as we can. Hopefully we will be challenging for automatic promotion or failing that a play-off position.

Having a playing budget that is not in the top 7 let alone the top 3 would make that some achievement for the club, but as I have said above it is not an exact right for any club to buy its league position and we are as well placed as anyone else to make that kind of a challenge.

So having stated all of the above; why don't I just give the manager a bigger budget and get promoted that way?

I learnt very early on that no matter how much money I give the club, or how much time I give the club, or what resources I make available to the club, it is never enough. So I provide an amount that I am comfortable with losing and an amount that does not put the club at risk should I not be able to continue to support it financially at any time.

I am not saying that it is wrong for supporters to have high expectations for their team and to want to criticise the club when it falls short but, if that is the case, then try to do it constructively.

This message is trying to address the unacceptable behaviour of the few that don't do that and I remain grateful to the vast majority of you, that not only understand but also relish supporting a club like Colchester with all of the challenges it faces.

Up the U's,
Robbie Cowling

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