U's respond to MP's complaint

COLCHESTER United's Chief Executive, Marie Partner, has responded to stinging criticism levied at the club's use of agents by local MP Bob Russell.Russell aired his disapproval for the Championship club's payment of £91,300 to agents during the six months from July to December, 2007.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's Chief Executive, Marie Partner, has responded to stinging criticism levied at the club's use of agents by local MP Bob Russell.

Russell aired his disapproval for the Championship club's payment of £91,300 to agents during the six months from July to December, 2007.

But Mrs Partner has responded by echoing the sentiments of chairman and owner Robbie Cowling, who last week revealed that the payment of agents' fees were now a “necessary expense” to compete with other clubs in the division.


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Russell stated: “For many years, Colchester United had the proud reputation of refusing to deal with football agents.

“But there has clearly been a major change of policy following the departure of chairman Peter Heard.”

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He went on to say: “What it (payment of agents' fees) does represent is around £25 for every season ticket holder.

“Agents take money out of football. In the case of Colchester United, I am sure that the £91,300 could have been put to better use - for example, towards a club room for the club's official supporters association at the new ground.”

Russell, who has been the MP for Colchester since 1997, is a season ticket holder at Layer Road and has been supporting the club since the age of 10.

Speaking last night, Mrs Partner responded: “Mr Russell will have every opportunity to put his questions direct to the chairman and the board of directors at the club's AGM (to be staged this evening). They will be more than happy to give him a response.

“The second year in the Championship was always going to be a difficult one for a club like Colchester United, having to compete with the bigger clubs to attract players.

“It was a case of necessity to involve agents to get these players. In the long run, it will probably save us in big transfer fees.

“The club was heavily criticised for losing six players last summer, and the manager has since been very pro-active to get in the right sort of players to replace them,” added Mrs Partner.

Only five Championship clubs spent less than the U's in total fees paid to agents during the second half of last year. These were Blackpool, Scunthorpe, Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Plymouth.

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