All go for Bradshaw
CARL MARSTON talks to Colchester United's Chief Executive STEVE BRADSHAW, who succeeded Marie Partner to the post just over half-a-year ago. There has not been a dull moment since!STEVE Bradshaw has hardly had time to take stock, since he was appointed Colchester United's new Chief Executive at the end of last year.
CARL MARSTON talks to Colchester United's Chief Executive STEVE BRADSHAW, who succeeded Marie Partner to the post just over half-a-year ago. There has not been a dull moment since!
STEVE Bradshaw has hardly had time to take stock, since he was appointed Colchester United's new Chief Executive at the end of last year.
Just over six months down the line, and Bradshaw is getting to grips with the challenges that lay ahead, not least the task of helping manager Paul Lambert to build a promotion-winning squad.
And he is convinced that the U's have the set-up in place to launch a serious promotion bid over the coming 10 months.
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“It's going to be a big year for us. Finishing in sixth spot (last play-off spot) would be the minimum regarded for success this season,” insisted Bradshaw.
“We will have one of the biggest squads in the division, to match the chairman's (Robbie Cowling's) ambition.
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“It is clear the sort of players that Paul Lambert is wanting to bring into the club - hard-working, aggressive and fully-committed players, who are hungry for success.
“For me, I have to try and get the balance right, in terms of making sure the business is more sustainable to compete with clubs in the Championship, and also to make the new stadium (Weston Homes Community Stadium) feel like home. That's my biggest challenge.
“I was appointed just before Christmas, but didn't really start full-time until near the end of January.
“So this has been my first summer of being involved with all the transfer dealings. It's an exciting job.
“On the one hand, I have to try and understand better what the fans want and need, by trying to get a dialogue going.
“But then there's also all the football stuff, with the buying and selling of players, and sorting out contracts. It's tough, but it's great fun, and the chairman is a straight man to work with,” added Bradshaw.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been trying to secure planning permission for the club's proposed new training headquarters at Tiptree.
Planning permission was turned down last week, but Bradshaw remains confident that the project will eventually go ahead.
“The Council (Colchester Borough Council Planning Committee) had a different view to us, but it's all part of the process. Some of the people in Tiptree don't find it very palatable, but it will be a new facility that brings in employment.
“We will be going to an appeal. We have been asked to resubmit the application with additional information about the buildings that will be going alongside the training ground. That will be done within two weeks.
“If you look at the clubs currently in the Championship, virtually every one of them has their own training ground. The University (of Essex) and the Garrison have been good to us, but we need to have our own operation.
“Potential new players usually ask about the stadium first, and then where we train, so it can be very influential in attracting players,” said Bradshaw.
There have understandably been a few teething problems with the new Community Stadium, since the U's switch from Layer Road last summer.
Ticket pricing and car parking have been issues, while the team has not really felt at home playing at their new ground. The only won seven of their 24 home league and cup games last term, a poor record.
“It's easy for people to just look at the negatives, but we have a wonderful stadium that visiting supporters are very impressed with, when they come along,” continued Bradshaw.
The U's Chief Executive also revealed that all the comings and goings of the summer have not ended yet, in terms of transfers.
He said: “It is likely that one or two players will leave before the start of the season, because it's difficult to keep everyone happy with a squad bigger than 24 or 25.
“People tend to get very down if they are not in the team, or the 16-man squad. It can have an adverse effect on their careers, to spend a year in the reserves.
“We are also in negotiations for another striker,” added Bradshaw, who is now looking forward to his first full season in the hot seat.