ROBBIE Cowling believes Colchester United will have an even stronger budget next year.

The U’s are hoping to secure their League Two status and can confirm their EFL place this weekend with a win at Notts County.

Danny and Nicky Cowley are hoping to construct a Colchester squad capable of competing at the right end of the table in the 2024-25 season, following another relegation battle this year.

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Prior to this season, Mr Cowling felt the U’s might potentially have a top-six budget in League Two, depending on the financial clout of other clubs in the division.

The U’s owner and chairman admits he does not know yet whether that will be the case next time around but says he will once again provide ‘significant investment’.

Speaking at last night’s Colchester United season ticket holders fans’ forum, Mr Cowling said: “I think I put a large investment into the club every season.

“Our budget this year is about twice what it was two years ago.

“We’ve had a good budget this year and we’ve spent more money on travel than we’ve ever spent, we've spent more on medical than we’ve ever spent, so there’s been good investment in the club and it’s a significant investment for Colchester United to achieve what it achieves.

“There is a significant investment, as there is every year since I’ve ever been here.

Gazette: Robbie Cowling

“The budget when we went into this season was £2.5m or just below that – we always hold a little bit back for January.

“When we looked at the numbers last year, that would have been a top-six budget.

“When we started the season, it was maybe top ten.

“Because of the situation we’re in, in January we went again and we spent a bit more of we’d held back.

“We’ve had a decent budget this year but I’d imagine our budget is lower than Forest Green, who are the only club relegated at the moment.

“From what we know, their budget was significantly better than ours.

“The budget isn’t everything and I tend to judge the coaches on if I give them the tenth-best budget, I’d like to finish at least tenth; if I give them a bottom-six budget, I can’t really expect any more than that.

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“We had a good budget last year and going forward to next year, we’ll have a similar budget – we’ll be around that £2.5m and we’ll have to see where we are for definite at the moment.

“I’d imagine next year, it will be a stronger budget than it’s been this year.

“We’re already losing three teams out of the league that we know have got very big budgets and with the teams coming down and the ones that look like they’re coming up, I think it’ll be a more competitive budget next year, so maybe that will be a top-six budget, I don’t know.

Gazette: Robbie Cowling

“It will be a reasonable budget.

“Danny and Nicky don’t have £2.5m to go out and sign who they want.

“They are players under contract and I think we’ve got a pretty good squad as it stands and I think they’re showing that.

“With some additions, it should be good but that’s for these guys to work out.”

Mr Cowling also stated at the fans’ forum that the club have long-term plans in place to make improvements.

“There’s not a specific plan over any term,” added the U’s supremo.

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“There are so many variables in football that that’s difficult to do.

“The thing that I try to do with my own life and with the football club is to make it the best version of itself that it can be and to try and be a better version tomorrow than it was the day before.

“We’ve had mixed results doing that; in some ways, certainly over the years, we’re a lot better that we have been in the past and in other ways, in terms of league status, we’re not as good as we have been in the past.

“There are a lot of long-term plans in the club to do things and make improvements.

“Off the field, we’ve been very successful in doing those things and we’re always looking at what we can do better.”