Big boost for U’s as amended training hours approved
The U’s proposal was passed after a vote, with seven for, two abstentions and two against, following a meeting attended by about 250 U’s fans and also local objectors at the Town Hall.
It means that the League One club, who moved to Florence Park last summer, can continue the work on a Category Two Academy.
Tonight’s decision was some welcome good news for the U’s, who have endured an awful last couple of months, and also for their owner and chairman Robbie Cowling.
Under manager Joe Dunne, the U’s are on a current run of seven defeats on the spin, which could become a club record eight straight defeats if they lose at promotion-chasing Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
Promoting a successful Academy, based at the training ground, is considered as vital to the long-term future of the club, so tonight’s decision to allow amended hours of training, over and above those given in the original planning permission of 2012, will be seen as key to the U’s development.
Owner Mr Cowling said: “I am very relieved, because I believe that this is one the most important decisions ever to have affected this club.
“This club cannot move forward without a first class training facility and having the chance to develop our young players.
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“We feel we have compromised a lot and we don’t think the impact may be as big as it has been reported, but I am just very pleased to have got this decision.”
The U’s needed a change in training hours to meet the requirements of their targeted long-term Category Two status, in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Nurturing their own home-grown young talent is viewed as a necessary alternative to simply buying players, with the club’s small income hindering their competitiveness in the transfer market.
As a result of tonight’s approved amended hours, the U’s will be able to use the training ground until 3.30pm between August and April, and until 5pm in July during their pre-season campaign.