Cowling releases budget cut plan

COLCHESTER United owner Robbie Cowling has revealed his plans to gradually cut his subsidy of the club’s playing budget from �1.4m to nothing over the next five years in order to redirect his cash into longer-term projects.

COLCHESTER United owner Robbie Cowling has revealed his plans to gradually cut his subsidy of the club’s playing budget from �1.4m to nothing over the next five years in order to redirect his cash into longer-term projects.

In a refreshingly honest and transparant statement released on the club’s website, the likes of which is rarely seen in the world of football, Cowling has laid bare his busineess plan for all to see.

Having subsidised previous managers Paul Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd with plenty of his own money in a failed attempt to bounce quickly back to the Championship, Cowling – who has made his millions through his JobServe business – has now decided a more sustainable and long-term approach is required.

As a result, he will withdraw �300,000 of his own money from the playing budget every season for the next five seasons until it reaches zero at the start of the 2016/17 campaign.


You may also want to watch:


That cash will instead be used to fund the new training ground being built at Tiptree (due to open at the start of 2012) as well as the Centre of Excellence scheme at Thurstable School (which begins its first year in September).

As Cowling’s subsidy of the playing budget becomes less and less, manager John Ward will become more and more reliant on gate receipts and the basic awards the club receives from the Football League.

Most Read

However, Cowling – in an attempt to get more supporters into the 10,000 capacity Weston Homes Community Stadium – has promised fans that every penny they spend on tickets (less VAT) will go directly to Ward to spend as he sees fit.

Ward will also get 100% of the basic awards the club receives from the Football League, with other outgoings such as match day costs, rent, rates, utility bills and staff wages covered by events held at the club during the week, sponsorship and match-day hospitality.

Next season Ward’s playing budget will be just over �3.5m. Cowling will subsidise �1.4m of that, with just over �1.1m made up of last season’s gate receipts (average attendance just over 4,200) and little under �1m coming from the Football League.

“During the last five years, we have finished 10th and 24th in the Championship and 12th, eighth and 10th in League One,” said Cowling.

“These represent five of the six highest finishes in the club’s history. However, the budget is nowhere near enough to ‘almost’ guarantee promotion and is too much to sustain going forward, given current attendances.

“For the long-term good of the club, two important investments are now being made; firstly, a new training facility which is already underway and second, the establishment of one of the best youth set ups in the country.

“It is my view that it will be these strategies that will ultimately provide us with the tools to gain promotions into higher leagues and to sustain that status. However, the club can’t make both these investments and prop up the playing budget.”

He added: “It is an unusual step for a club that is under a single owner to be so transparent with this kind of information and I can already imagine all of the other things that our fans will want to know, such as how much is being spent where.

“I will make sure that the running total of gate receipts is published throughout the season and before each season, and I will make sure the total playing budget is disclosed. However, beyond that, I will not be prepared to divuldge any other information.

“The reason I am publishing this information is so that fans can see how their attendance at games both encourages the players on the field and provides the manager with the budget to build a team of which you can be proud.”

– More arrivals due at Colchester United? See tomorrow’s EADT.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter