COLCHESTER United have been enthused by a buoyant uplift in season ticket sales ahead of the new League Two season.

The U's kick off the 2019/20 campaign with a home clash against Port Vale on Saturday as head coach John McGreal's side look to build on last season's eighth-place finish.

It has been an encouraging summer at the JobServe Community Stadium with McGreal able to augment his squad with some quality additions such as striker Jevani Brown, midfielder Luke Gambin, defender Omar Sowunmi and goalkeeper Dean Gerken.

Players, both established and new, will be hoping to make an impact from the first whistle and they will be looking for plenty of support from the Community Stadium stands.

So the club are pleased that season ticket sales over the summer are showing that fans are backing their own ambitions.

General manager Tim Waddington said: “Season-ticket sales have been really good.

“You always have a little churn on season tickets, with some going in and some going out but it’s up this year and it’s looking really, really good.

“The model changes a little bit because we do annual subscriptions and the timings change.

“If the annual subscriptions continue the way they’re going we’re looking healthy and up again this year.

“We ended last season with the gates up; it’ll be a challenge and there are maybe one or two teams where we won’t see quite as much interest.

“But if performances start the way they ended last season, I can see us looking good on attendances too.

“We finished the season strongly and we played very entertaining football throughout – that’s the thing that I think the fans want to see.

“They want to see players playing with their heart and soul and the same passion that the fans have and I think we’ve got that.

“Both John (McGreal) and (assistant boss) Steve (Ball) have got a style of football that’s really quite entertaining and they’ve got the players to do it.

“The squad again this year looks strong and I’m hugely optimistic."

As well as the new additions, though, there have been some exits, with former youth-team players Sammie Szmodics and Frankie Kent moving on to Bristol City and Peterborough United respectively.

While the U's were sorry to see highly-regarded players leaving, though, the cash from the sales is being used to grow the club and Waddington said it was part of what they were trying to achieve with their youth structure.

“We’re building ourselves as a club with an academy that grows talent," he said.

“If we don’t sell talent and see it progress, then we’re failing.

“That particular academy year has been absolutely fruitful for us and it’s wonderful to see those boys go on.

“(Alex) Gilbey was the first to go from that crop and now Szmodics and Kent and there are still more who could be of interest to other clubs.

“We’re going to miss them –Sammie’s been floating around the club in all of the years I’ve been at the club but good luck to him."