A new era beckons for U’s

THE opening of Colchester United’s new training ground, which remains on schedule for next summer, will herald the dawn of a new era at the Essex club.

THE opening of Colchester United’s new training ground, which remains on schedule for next summer, will herald the dawn of a new era at the Essex club.

That is the opinion of U’s owner and chairman, Robbie Cowling, who has ploughed his own money into funding an impressive five pitches, four for the club and one for the local community, in addition to two building complexes.

Cowling hopes that the U’s new facility, which is currently being built on the edge of Tiptree, will have the same impact that the Playford Road training complex has had on neighbours Ipswich Town.

After a long struggle to gain planning permission, which was finally granted at the third attempt in January, 2010, the U’s have lost no time in turning their dreams into reality.

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Members of the press were invited to the Tiptree site yesterday, to see the rapid progress that has already been made – grass is already appearing on two of the pitches, and the two buildings are well under way.

“It will be the start of a new era, when it happens,” explained Cowling.

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“There is no benefit to the club at the moment, apart from the feel-good factor.

“But you look at clubs like Ipswich, who really got it right years ago. Someone had the foresight to put something in place, where they have gone on to see the benefit of some fantastic players being developed, putting money back into their club.

“Hopefully, this will do the same for us.

“When I took over Colchester, it didn’t have any assets. We had nothing except for a few chairs and tables.

“I like to build assets into something, you can see what you are getting.

“The club spends a lot of money at the moment, and sometimes at the end of the year there is not a lot to show for it. I think this will prove money well spent,” added Cowling.

Cowling took over the controlling interest of Colchester United five years ago, overseeing the U’s move to their new home at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in 2008.

And he has since been the driving force behind the U’s new training ground, which will be completed at an overall cost of �3.5m.

Cowling continued: “As soon as I took the club on, I really wanted it to have something like this.

“It is a major asset for the club, and this will still be here long after I have gone. This will still exist in 30 years time.

“The land belongs to the club. The money has come from myself putting more money into the club, but there is an opportunity around the site to put some housing down, which will pay me back for it eventually and for some of the other money I have invested.

“What I am trying to do is to invest money where I think there will eventually be some sort of a return for the club, which is in the development of the younger players and the development of the team, and not spending it on areas where perhaps I have now decided it’s not been wisely spent.”

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