U’s fans warned – There’ll be no spending spree

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling says the club has ‘already spent’ the �425,000 compensation money received from Norwich City for former manager Paul Lambert.

COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling has warned his club’s fans not to expect a spending spree this summer following two sets of managerial compensation pay-outs.

The U’s have just received �425,000 from Norwich City in compensation for manager Paul Lambert, as well as an undisclosed amount for his successor Aidy Boothroyd following his departure to Coventry City.

The fee from Norwich alone is more than Colchester have ever spent on a single player, however, Cowling has urged U’s supporters not to get too carried away with thoughts of a mass influx of new blood to the League One club.

“In many ways the money has already been spent,” said the Essex club’s owner and chairman, who has also saved money by promoting previous assistant boss John Ward to the managerial hot seat.

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“We’d brought in players that Paul Lambert wanted that then didn’t figure under the new manager (Boothroyd). We ended up with a bigger squad than we would have done if we hadn’t made the change.

“I remain 100% committed to this club and I’ll try and back my manager (Ward) as best as I can, but we have a budget and I certainly can’t just pass all of this money onto the manager for transfers and wages.

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“John will try to go out and find better players for us but there will be limitations and restrictions on what he can spend.”

Ward is due to return from a family holiday in the United States this week, but it looks as though the former Cheltenham and Carlisle boss’ first priority will be trimming his squad, not adding to it.

Speaking after his appointment, Ward – who admitted his transfer list was not ‘wildly different’ to that of former manager Boothroyd’s – said: “There’s a budget and I know I’ve got to work to it. As well as players coming in, there will have to be a few that leave this football club.”

Colchester’s first team squad was well above the 30 mark for most of this season, but has already dropped significantly since the end of the campaign following the sale of David Fox to Norwich, the return of loanees Kevin Lisbie, Franck Queudrue and Danny Batth to their parent clubs and the release of Scott Vernon, Matt Lockwood and Russell Malton.

David Prutton and Phil Ifil are both still deciding whether to sign new deals at the club before their contracts expire at the end of the month, while Marc Tierney’s future remains in doubt. The left-back has failed to agree a contract extension at the club in recent months and, with just a year left on his current deal, Colchester could be forced to cash in.

However, rather than replace any departing stars, Ward will be expected to use his experience to get more out of the players he already has – many of whom barely got a look-in under Boothroyd.

The likes of former captain Pat Baldwin and club-record signing Steven Gillespie barely played last season, but both have already been assured by new boss Ward that they will play significant roles next season.

Winger Medy Elito is likely to return to the fold following a successful end-of-season loan spell at Cheltenham, defenders Alan Maybury and Lee Beevers will both be fully fit come the start of the new campaign, while youngsters Tom Bender, Bradley Hamilton and Craig Arnott could be given first team opportunities.

Meanwhile, Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett has assured Canaries fans that their compensation pay-out to Colchester will not effect his club’s ambitions in the transfer market.

He said: “Provision had been made in our cashflow for some time. We should assure our fans that sums ordered are something we have budgeted for and will have no impact on Paul Lambert’s player budget for next season.”

Lambert – whose side will play in the Championship next season following their League One title-winning campaign – has already signed four players this summer in the form of Fox (Colchester), Steven Smith (Rangers), Elliott Ward (Coventry) and Andrew Crofts (Brighton).

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