Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling has said Colchester United could’ve coped with relegation to League Two but cannot afford to be denied Category Two academy status.
Colchester are trying to prove that they meet the required standard under the Elite Player Performance Plan after all but ensuring their League One safety with a 4-1 victory against already-promoted Brentford last weekend.
Speaking to BBC Late Kick Off East Cowling said: “Relegation would be massively disappointing, but failing the audit again will be devastating.”
“We need Category Two status – it gives us extra funding, which is important, it gives us a much better games programme where we play better teams week-in, week-out, but it also gives protection for our players so that others just can’t come in and poach them – that is the most important thing.”
“Being Category Three, we can spend lots of money developing player, but they will just get poached before we truly get the benefit of them in the first team and benefit of funds if we do well them on to bigger and better things.”
Colchester have spent the past three seasons reducing their first-team budget and will continue down that path in order to invest in youth facilities and the production their own players.
The U’s fell 3 per cent short of the required standard for Category Two in an independent audit last year to the dismay of manager Joe Dunne who remains keen to promote talented youngsters like Sammie Smozdics and Macauley Bonne into his first-team.
“The budget gets cut every year and is getting cut again next year, but that is to bring it in line with our philosophy about bringing kids through,” said Dunne.