Colchester United Owner and Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following statement.
I hope you are all well and enjoying a bit more freedom as restrictions are being eased. However, please do take care and continue to take extra care with those who are vulnerable from this terrible virus. As Colchester United’s first team discovered recently, coronavirus is still out there and in many cases, especially in younger people, it’s asymptomatic.
Sadly our season came to its conclusion last Monday and for a while, I was probably the most miserable Chairman on the planet. However, feeling down and sorry for myself is not going to change the result, nor will it resolve the numerous issues that require me to be at my best. So we go again and weighing up this extraordinary season, I’m extremely proud of everyone associated with Colchester United.
With restrictions being eased, it’s not just an end to the 2019/20 season but the end of the first stage of the pandemic. We have worked some miracles to get through that stage and I’m grateful for the support I have received, but I have to admit that without the assistance of the furlough scheme we would have been in deep trouble. I dare say the same is true for most other clubs. Especially those of us in Leagues One and Two who rely financially on our attendances.
The oncoming train we face is the end of furlough payments. Therefore, we’re desperate to get next season started so we can get some income but extremely nervous how that will work out financially. Hopefully, we can get back to playing in front of you soon but it won’t be simple, capacity is likely to be restricted and match-day costs for the club are probably going to go up. Plus we will have to be ready to go into lockdown again if we are hit by another wave of the virus. There are certainly some challenging times ahead.
Not much has been said about next season starting and until last Monday’s defeat, I have been focused on finishing this season. I have a League Two meeting this week and hopefully more details will be provided about when we plan to start again at that meeting. Once we know anything significant, we will let you know.
In terms of getting through the 2019/20 season, the job retention scheme has been vital but we also have to be thankful to Rick Parry and the EFL for the help it has provided to our club. Participating in the Play-Offs is an example where it was not a cheap option but they have done their best to provide some financial support which means we will not be too disadvantaged next season. In particular, I would like to thank John Nixon from Carlisle United. John is the League Two representative on the EFL board and he has always been good for League Two but throughout the pandemic he has been brilliant.
I provided some information in my last statement about how we plan to deal with the many refunds we need to make so that we can put last season to bed. The response to that proposal has been fantastic so I would like to provide a bit more information regarding our plans. There are numerous scenarios so the way we deal with each refund will be specific to the customer but in most cases those entitled to a refund will have the option to:
a. Convert the cancelled fixtures to Match Credits.
For example, a Season Pass holder who is entitled to be refunded for all five cancelled fixtures would be credited with five Match Credits. The credits provided would be of equal status to the cancelled tickets.
b. Transfer the refund value to a Privilege Card.
For example, a Season Pass holder who is entitled to £60.00 being refunded for all five cancelled fixtures would either have £60.00 credited to their existing Privilege Card or would have a Privilege Card created for them with a balance of £60.00. We will be adding functionality to our online ticket system so that these funds can be used towards the purchase of future tickets.
c. Be provided with a full refund.
For example, a Season Pass holder who is entitled to £60.00 being refunded for all five cancelled fixtures can choose to have the full £60.00 refunded.
d. Transfer the refund value to a ‘Club United’ Fund.
For example, a Season Pass holder who is entitled to £60.00 being refunded for all five cancelled fixtures can choose to add the funds to the ‘Club United’ Fund.
The idea for Club United came to me because so many Colchester United fans who are due refunds have been in touch to say they want to donate their refund to the club. I feel uncomfortable just taking these funds because it’s a fantastically generous offer and I’m bound to spend it in ways that will infuriate some supporters. Therefore, I would prefer to ring-fence the money and let those that contributed decide how to spend it.
This is how the Club United Fund will work.
The Club United Fund will hold a pot of money that belongs to the club, but the releasing of the funds will be determined by whichever fans have placed the funds with Club United. For example if 1,600 fans add £60 each to the Club United Fund, then it will have a balance of £96,000 and they will each have a 0.0625% fan share.
The full value of the fund and a particular fan’s share of the fund will be available via the dashboard once a fan logs in to their account on the tickets.colchesterunited.net website.
The club or anyone with any Club United shares can propose something that they want to be purchased by the funds lodged in the Club United fund.
If the club approve the proposal, then those with Club United funds can choose to pledge all or some of their funds to that proposal. For example, if a proposal is approved to raise £30,000 for some safe standing in the South Stand and £30,000 gets pledged then the club will arrange for £30,000 of safe rail seating to be fitted in the South Stand.
I’ve put in some extra hours in the evenings to design the system and development is due to begin in July. I expect the system to be fully available in September so a bit more patience is requested. However, the system we are developing to manage the refunds should be available beforehand, probably in August. That is when those entitled to refunds will have the ability to select option (d) above if they wish to and divert their refund money to this very unique system.
Once again, I would like to reiterate that I also understand that these are difficult times so if anyone simply wants a full refund and needs it ASAP, then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will deal with the request as soon as we can.
I hope this update is useful.
Up the U’s