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If we lose training times battle, we’ll quit youth football, claims Cowling
YOUTH football at Colchester United could be under threat, its owner has claimed.
The claims were made in an open letter urging the public to support the club’s controversial planning application to Colchester Council .
The application, submitted in July, asks for all-day use of pitches at the ground.
One of 34 conditions attached to the original planning permission was training should only take place between 10.30am and 1pm, Mondays to Saturdays.
However, the U’s now want their players to be able to practise between 10am and 6pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10am to 1pm on Sundays.
The club recently moved to the £2.5million complex, in Grange Road, after years training at Essex University and other sites.
However, residents claimed the changes would be disruptive.
Mr Cowling said in the letter: “It is difficult to understand why the application should be turned down, but if the club were to fail to get the hours of use it has applied for, it would have little choice but to pull out of youth football altogether and that would be devastating for the club, the young players and for the 19 full-time and 15 part-time staff who are employed in our youth department.”
However, Terry Shuttleworth, who lives beside the training ground, said “children’s football” was never meant to be have been on the cards at the ground as it was intended for elite professional footballers.
He added: “Now, all of a sudden, it is apocalypse now for youth football unless club owner Robbie Cowling gets totally his own way, as he is used to doing. “His latest threats are the act of a childish and unreasonable man. The council needs to listen to people who are genuinely affected by his grandiose plans.”
The U’s also want to be allowed to use more than two pitches at a time for one-off events, and for removal of a 40m buffer zone between the pitches and any new homes.
It is currently restricted to using just two of the pitches simultaneously within the time restrictions.
Mr Cowling added in his letter that some fixtures involve teams from as far away as Swansea and it occasionally needs to use the facility on Saturday afternoons and on Sunday mornings.
Nearly 100 people have already voiced their opinions on the bid. So far, the majority are opposed.
Colchester Council will rule on the application by October 19.
Colchester United declined to comment.