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Jon Waldron: My views on the U's
The rather surreal experience of watching Colchester United play Coventry City in Northampton on a Sunday afternoon in front of the Sky Blues’ lowest-ever home crowd brought home more than ever the importance of Football League clubs being solvent.
The plight of Coventry, the 1987 FA Cup winners and a club which spent 34 consecutive seasons in the top flight up until relatively recently, is a sad one to behold, not least for their loyal supporters.
Having started the season on minus ten points in the third tier and with liquidation looking likely, things are looking bleak.
Those loyal supporters who are not boycotting their beloved club are making a 70-mile round trip to watch their side play due to a rent dispute Coventry have with the ground owners at the Ricoh Arena.
And with all due respect to Sixfields, a stadium still in its relative infancy itself, the stark contrast between the two venues is a perfect illustration of the club’s predicament and the fragility of modern football in general.
Indeed, Coventry are by no means not the only club to suffer such financial problems over recent times, with the high-profile examples of Glasgow Rangers and Portsmouth a case in point.
Thankfully for Colchester United fans, their club has no such problems.
U’s chairman Robbie Cowling made the decision nearly two-and-a-half years ago to gradually cut the playing budget and inject more investment into the club’s academy, with the intention of preserving the club’s future.
As Colchester boss Joe Dunne stated last week, their followers should take pride in the fact that in Cowling, they have a responsible owner and chairman who is forthright in his mission to ensure that the club remains financially stable and does not make the same mistakes as others have.
As Dunne said, talk of budget cuts and downsizing is not really what football fans want to hear.
Given Cowling’s recent admission in the Daily Gazette that he could eventually walk away from the Weston Homes Community Stadium if the U’s do not receive more help from the town, the influence of the U’s owner should not be underestimated.
But at present, the plight of the likes of Coventry City should serve as a warning to all that such a predicament can befall any football club, should it not be managed in the correct way.
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