New training ground, big friendlies, but tough new rules – in Cowling’s eyes

COLCHESTER United owner and chairman, Robbie Cowling, recognises that this is a landmark summer for the Essex club.

On the plus side, there is the exciting move to an impressive new training complex, at Tiptree, and the promise of three attractive pre-season friendlies on home turf.

But on the debit side, the new regulations set for next season, preventing League One clubs from spending more than 65% of their income on players’ salaries, will have a detrimental effect on the U’s.

The acid test will be whether the likes of out-of-contract players Ben Williams, John-Joe O’Toole and Magnus Okuonghae choose to sign new deals, on less favourable terms, or move elsewhere.

“I think we will be worse off than most other clubs in our division,” admitted Cowling yesterday, with reference to the new rules on salaries.

“You only have to look at our (small) attendances. That’s going to mean we are affected more than others, but we have worked hard to be where we are.

“We are still waiting on replies from a few of our out-of-contract players. I don’t expect us to be hearing from them just yet.

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“After this weekend, they still have a couple more weeks before they need to come back to us. I imagine they are looking at potential offers elsewhere,” added Cowling.

The U’s pre-season campaign is taking shape, with the announcement that newly-promoted Premier League side West Ham will visit the Weston Homes Community Stadium for a friendly on Saturday, July 21 (kick-off 3pm).

Home games against Championship clubs Derby County (Friday, August 3) and Ipswich Town (Wednesday, August 8) have already been confirmed.

Cowling also revealed yesterday that John Ward’s men will be spending a week in Holland.

“Like last year, they will be going to Holland, at the same place (near Arnhem). That seemed to work well,” continued Cowling.

“I think there will only be one game, rather than two, because they have a friendly match as soon as they return. That’s when everything will start to be based at the new training ground.”

Cowling’s long-term ambition to provide a fantastic training facility for the U’s, something the club has never had, will be realised this summer.

“It’s an exciting new era for the club,” enthused Cowling.

“It’s going to go hand in hand with our youth policy, and hopefully will attract other players to come to the club as well.

“The training ground will be a good statement for the club, showing what we are about

“ It might also encourage Premier League clubs, like Arsenal and Tottenham, to loan us some of their younger players!”

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