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Club News

Club Statement

Latest Update from Robbie Cowling

25 August 2020

Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has made the following statement.

I hope everyone is keeping well and enjoying the summer. I haven’t had the chance to take a break yet but I think it’s great that so many people are discovering places to go and things to do in the UK.

Essex is underestimated with a great coastline and beautiful countryside and these areas seems to be attracting more visitors than ever. Which is good, but I do wish they would take their rubbish away with them. Rant over and on to the football.

Refunds For Last Season

Our online system for handling the refunds has gone smoothly. It can’t handle every type of refund but for those that it can handle, we have so far refunded £56,283.86 to 1,231 of those who are entitled to refunds.

The following table shows how those refunds have been allocated:

Refund Type

No Of Refunds

Refund Amount

Club United

200

£7,812.76

Full Refund

740

£38,773.60

Match Credits

40

£841.00

Privilege Card

251

£8,856.50

 

Club United

This project is still on target to go live just before the season starts on the 12th of September.

So having processed 30% of the refunds, we currently have 200 fans who have allocated £7,812.76 to Club United. That suggests the fund will be around £26,000 with approximately 670 shareholders.

I’ve been testing the system myself over the weekend and our testers have been very creative with the proposals they have created to test the system. Sadly, none of those would get through the approval stage.

Player Signings

I need to remind a few fans that there is a global pandemic and football finances are not what they were. They were not great beforehand but to put things into perspective, I’m going to use this statement to lay out the situation.

There was no way, back in March, that I could foresee that by September every single EFL club would have survived and would be planning for the 2020/21 season. But this is how most of us have achieved this amazing outcome:

  1. The EFL gave us all an interest free loan.
  2. The Taxman has allowed us all to defer PAYE payments.
  3. The VAT man has allowed us all to defer VAT payments.
  4. Some clubs, (not CUFC), have deferred player wages.
  5. Most clubs, (not CUFC), have already sold next season's Season Tickets.
  6. The EFL have advanced club distributions.
  7. The Premier League have advanced Solidarity payments.
  8. Clubs have furloughed their players and staff.

That’s eight tin cans, (and there are more), that clubs have kicked down the road. Delaying fan refunds is another. And guess what? Kicking the can down the road is not an endless option.

As we approach the new season when fans get excited by new signings, some Colchester United fans are feeling left out as other clubs are signing players whilst we are not. The main reason for this is because many clubs had the majority of their squad go out of contract at the end of June and are therefore signing replacement players.

We only lost four first team regulars from a squad that was already oversized. At Colchester United, we have a good squad. Yes we can all see areas we would like to improve but until we have a clear pathway to financial viability, we will not be splashing any cash.

I know from the EFL meetings I attend that many clubs are desperate for some kind of a rescue package from the government or the Premier League. Such a package would breathe some much needed oxygen into our club’s financial lungs but I won’t put the club at risk of drowning if it doesn’t transpire.

I was always taught to be careful with the future because you have nowhere else to go. We do have some money due to us from the players we sold last year but that’s going to the tax man and the vat man first. Those that would run the club differently wouldn’t have a club to run for long.

If any of the current squad were to be sold or go out on loan, then yes that will certainly free off some budget. There is plenty of time for that to happen but if it does not, then the squad we have is the squad we have.

Attending future matches

As I have already alluded to, the work involved in getting crowds back in to stadiums is enormous but if clubs fail to achieve this then the consequences for them could be ruinous.

I’m keen to get season tickets on sale, but that is being held up until we know what the rules are going to be around streaming - which we want to offer as an alternative when a fan is being denied access to the stadium.

UEFA have a ‘black-out’ rule which doesn’t allow games to be broadcasted at 3pm on a Saturday but that rule has been relaxed whilst stadium access is restricted. Hopefully, we can now get season tickets on sale and fans can watch the stream until stadium access is available.

We were planning on offering a home and an away stream as an alternative if the situation arose whereby a ticket holder was denied access to our stadium due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However, an EFL decision was made last week that has determined we can’t offer a stream to away games to be included. Therefore, our plan is to offer a free home stream and a privilege top-up for the difference of the match ticket and the stream.

So Finally

I’m confident that the season tickets will go on sale shortly and we should have those fans back in the stands in October. I would like to end this statement with a thank you for the tremendous support that the majority of you have shown to me and the club during what has been and will continue to be the most challenging time the club has faced.

I know that Colchester United is not alone and many of you have your own challenges to face up to. I’m sure some of the steps the clubs have taken to survive are steps your own businesses may have taken too. I truly wish you all the very best in the coming months and hopefully another cup run this season can bring a bit of relief to all of the doom and gloom.

Up the U’s

Robbie


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