Cowling turns heat on Canaries

COLCHESTER United chairman and owner Robbie Cowling has urged the Football League to make an example of Norwich City by deducting them points following the breakdown of a compensation row between the clubs.

Stuart Watson

By Stuart Watson

COLCHESTER United chairman and owner Robbie Cowling has urged the Football League to make an example of Norwich City by deducting them points following the breakdown of a compensation row between the clubs.

The Norfolk club controversially appointed the management team of Paul Lambert, Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa in August after the trio had started the season in charge at East Anglian rivals Colchester.


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Cowling claims that Norwich did not ask permission to speak to his staff and that, despite telling Lambert and co to stay, they still signed for the Carrow Road club.

Now - following three months of failed compensation negotiations - Cowling has reported the Norwich to the Football League.

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And with the U's and Canaries currently both vying for promotion in a tight League One table, Cowling has called on football's disciplinary men to set a precedent and deduct points from the Norfolk club.

He said: “A few points could be the difference between them and us come the end of the season and - if that means the difference between promotion and not going up - that could end up costing us millions of pounds.

“I think football should now take a stand and set a precedent by deducting Norwich points.”

Colchester have officially reported Norwich City as a club - as well as Lambert, Culverhouse and Karsa as individuals - to the Football League for 'breach of Football League regulations and misconduct'. The Football League will now set up a Football Disciplinary Commission (FDC) to hear Colchester's complaint, which they must submit in full by the middle of next month.

Cowling - who says he was able to have just one face-to-face meeting with Norwich counterpart Alan Bowkett in the last three months - added: “We have been advised that the FDC has the power to deduct points from Norwich, a remedy which we have also been advised might be particularly relevant in this case.

“I'm disappointed, because in the past the two clubs have always enjoyed an excellent relationship and, during the time they were at Colchester United, I had a first class relationship with Paul, Ian and Gary who did a wonderful job for us.

“We have genuinely tried to preserve those good relations and it therefore saddens me that we feel compelled to take this step.

“However, no one should doubt the resolve of the Colchester United Board to seek a fair outcome from this matter.”

In response, Norwich City have released a short official statement which reads: “City can confirm they have been informed Colchester United have made a formal complaint to the Football League against the Canaries and three members of our management team, Paul Lambert, Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa.

“The matter is now in the hands of our legal representatives and the two clubs will be called to a hearing of the Football Disciplinary Commission to resolve the matter.”

The situation echoes the one which Colchester found themselves in the 1994/5 season when - on Christmas Eve - manager George Burley resigned from the Essex club before joining East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town just a few days later. The U's were also unable to settle compensation on that occasion and the figure was eventually decided by a tribunal.

- Full Ipswich and Colchester match previews inside today's Green'Un supplement.

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