ROBBIE Cowling believes the likely introduction of a salary cap can provide Colchester United with a 'massive opportunity that they must exploit'.

And the U's supremo says the plan would allow them to be highly competitive in League One and League Two - providing their acclaimed academy is 'firing on all cylinders'.

EFL proposals have already been sent out to third and fourth tier clubs outlining a new salary system, with a playing budget caps of £1.5m suggested for League Two.

Crucially for the U's given the emphasis they have placed on their youth set-up, the plans outline that player wages for those under the age of 21 would be exempt from the caps.

A formal vote on the EFL’s planned salary cap regulations and rules is due to take place on July 29.

In a statement on the U's website, chairman Cowling said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many issues and will continue to throw many challenges at all football clubs no matter how large or small they are.

"However, there are always opportunities and some clubs will fare better than others. It’s my job to seek out those opportunities and exploit them.

"With it being highly likely that salary capping is going to be introduced, then that could provide Colchester United with a massive opportunity and it’s one we must exploit.

"The current levels being suggested as playing budget caps are £1.5m for League Two and £2.5m for League One.

"If salary caps are introduced at those levels, they will make those leagues a level playing field. But, potentially one that should be tilted in our favour thanks to our infrastructure, facilities and most of all our Academy.

"Can Colchester United be highly competitive in League Two with a £1.5m playing budget and everyone else capped to that same level?

"Can Colchester United be highly competitive in League One with everyone else capped to a £2.5m budget?

"If we get the Academy firing on all cylinders, then the answer is a clear yes.

"This coming season, and maybe even the one after that, will be difficult as clubs transition from their previous budgets down to the new salary caps.

"It’s also going to favour those clubs that have just a few players left on contract. Those clubs will be able to exploit the surplus of players who will be looking for a new club this season and sadly we are not one of those clubs.

"However, those advantages are short-term but our investment in youth is well established and the Academy we have built can provide players that are under twenty one years old and don’t count towards the salary cap.

"I’ve always been realistic about Colchester United’s prospects because I understand how important playing budgets are.

"Every season, one or two clubs out perform their budgets but they can’t sustain it over a long period. If every club has the same playing budget, and those that have invested in their infrastructure, facilities and youth have the upper hand, then happy days."