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Club News

Message from the Chairman

Club United and refunds covered in latest from Robbie

14 July 2020

Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following statement:

I hope you are all keeping well and life is getting back to normal for many of you. I have quite a lot to update everyone with so apologies in advance for the length of this update.

John McGreal

For those of you that didn’t see the announcement earlier, Colchester United are seeking a new First Team Head Coach.

I spoke with John McGreal on Friday 3rd July to explain that the club is going to be implementing a new plan that will see the first team being even more tightly aligned to the Academy and that I along with my three other directors, (Tony Humes, Tony Ashby and Jon De Souza), felt a change of First Team Head Coach was required if our new direction was to be successfully implemented.

This was a very tough decision for a number of reasons, but not least because John has been First Team Head Coach for the last four years.

This last season has been one of the club’s best seasons for a number of years and John should be very proud of his time in charge of the first team.

However, the club is not only facing a number of unprecedented challenges but also some unprecedented opportunities and myself and the other directors believe significant changes are required that will be best served with a new head coach.

John has done a great job for Colchester and I wish him well for his future.

Next Season 

The EFL are currently consulting with member clubs with a view to starting the 2020/21 season on either the 29th August or September 12th. In both cases, the season would be scheduled to finish on May 8th 2021.

I think this is really exciting news so long as the very strict testing protocol that was in place during the Play-Offs is relaxed. Otherwise, it will just be too expensive for League Two clubs.

Of course we will still apply strict protocols regarding our facilities and how they are used for training and for playing matches.

These protocols proved very successful during the Play-Offs where no new infections were detected by those that trained and played together and adhered to the methods that were introduced.

Attending Matches 

There is also talk about allowing a limited number of fans to attend games. 25% of capacity has been a figure that has been discussed as realistic to comply with the 1m+ social distancing rules that are currently in place.

This is also exciting news but getting my head around how that will actually be possible and how we increase or reduce the percentage if things get better or worse is already giving me a headache.


Work on our online system to handle football refunds is making good progress and we are on target to have it up and running in August.

Like everything else at the moment, it is neither simple nor cheap. Around £160,000 of football ticket refunds are due.

We will be bringing staff back into our Ticket Office on a part-time basis and they will be processing the refunds for the Little Mix concert that was due to have taken place this weekend just gone.

If you are due a Little Mix concert refund, please be patient and don’t call in or contact us.

We have the full details of every refund that is required and we will work our way through them as quickly as we can.

Club United 

The Club United idea seems to have been well received but just to clear up a few ideas that have been emailed to me about the fund.

It will never be used to buy players or to pay their wages. Nor will it be used to pay off a manager/first team coach or to pay their wages.

However, any ideas to buy some really posh heated seats outside the Chairman’s Suite will be given top priority.

Moving Forward

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many issues and will continue to throw many challenges at all football clubs no matter how large or small they are.

However, there are always opportunities and some clubs will fare better than others. It’s my job to seek out those opportunities and exploit them.

With it being highly likely that salary capping is going to be introduced, then that could provide Colchester United with a massive opportunity and it’s one we must exploit.

The current levels being suggested as playing budget caps are £1.5m for League Two and £2.5m for League One.

If salary caps are introduced at those levels, they will make those leagues a level playing field. But, potentially one that should be tilted in our favour thanks to our infrastructure, facilities and most of all our Academy.

Can Colchester United be highly competitive in League Two with a £1.5m playing budget and everyone else capped to that same level? Can Colchester United be highly competitive in League One with everyone else capped to a £2.5m budget? If we get the Academy firing on all cylinders, then the answer is a clear yes.

This coming season, and maybe even the one after that, will be difficult as clubs transition from their previous budgets down to the new salary caps.

It’s also going to favour those clubs that have just a few players left on contract. Those clubs will be able to exploit the surplus of players who will be looking for a new club this season and sadly we are not one of those clubs.

However, those advantages are short-term but our investment in youth is well established and the Academy we have built can provide players that are under twenty one years old and don’t count towards the salary cap.

I’ve always been realistic about Colchester United’s prospects because I understand how important playing budgets are.

Every season, one or two clubs out perform their budgets but they can’t sustain it over a long period. If every club has the same playing budget, and those that have invested in their infrastructure, facilities and youth have the upper hand, then happy days.

Up the U's


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