U's chairman draws up battle lines

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling has fanned the flames of animosity between the U's and Norwich City by revealing he is not willing to extend the ticket allocation for away supporters for next month's East Anglian derby.

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling has fanned the flames of animosity between the U's and Norwich City by revealing he is not willing to extend the ticket allocation for away supporters for next month's East Anglian derby.

The decision, which was criticised yesterday by City chairman Alan Bowkett, means supporters will now have to apply in writing to attend the highly charged fixture at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on Saturday, January 16.

Cowling appears desperate to get one over the Canaries following the fall-out from Paul Lambert and his management team's switch to Carrow Road and turned down City's request for an increase to their original allocation of just over 1,900 seats.

He also turned up the heat further by again criticising the Carrow Road board for their handling of the Lambert affair - and while Bowkett steered clear of those comments he was quick to hit out at Colchester's apparent retaliation.


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“We had asked if Colchester could give us more than the 1,900 they have allocated us but disappointingly they have confirmed they will not be making any more tickets available to Norwich fans,” he told the official Norwich website.

“We urge them to reconsider their decision, as it seems a shame to potentially stop Norwich City supporters who want to go and watch the game from doing so when the demand is clearly there. Ban me from the match but not our fantastic and vocal fans!

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“Meanwhile we would ask all City fans intending to attend the fixture to apply via the priority scheme, to ensure the fairest allocation of tickets possible.”

With the row over Lambert's move to Carrow Road continuing to simmer and the Canaries out to avenge the 7-1 humbling they suffered at the hands of promotion rivals Colchester on the opening day of the season next month's match looks certain to be a cracker - and Cowling said he had no intention of doing the Canaries any favours beforehand.

The Colchester chairman, who allowed Leeds United around 3.000 tickets earlier in the season - helping the attendance up to a near capacity 8,810 - told his club's official website: “Because of the exceptional support base that Norwich City enjoys and the size of our own regular support base it should be an easy commercial decision for me to make.

“If I extend the ticket allocation to the away supporters, I am pretty well guaranteed a sell-out. However, on this rare occasion I am not prepared to do so.

“I think this is a game that everyone who follows Colchester United should attend and I am therefore prepared to risk the extra �30k in revenue on my belief that this is what will happen for this important game.

“I am sorry if this decision goes down badly with the Norwich fans, who I personally have no gripe with. However, the Norwich board have acted appallingly towards our club recently and I'm not sure I have ever wanted to win a game of football so badly.

“Therefore, on this occasion, I will do everything in my power to stack whatever odds I can in our favour and if that does mean an empty seat rather than an away supporter then so be it.

“Of course, a passionate Colchester United supporter would be even better.”

City fans will be housed in the new stadium's North Stand, which has around 1,940 seats. Ironically that means Colchester will still be accommodating far more Norwich supporters than they did in their previous meetings at Layer Road, which could only cater for around 1,050 visitors.

Supporters who want to be at the Weston Homes Community Stadium next month can access a form on the club's official website. The usual sliding scale of priority groups will be used, with fans having until close of business on Saturday, January 2 to get their applications in. A ballot will be conducted if necessary.

Prices are �18 for adults, �13 for over-60s, �12 for under-21s, �10 for under-16s, �5 for under-11s and �3 for under-sevens. Club Canary coach travel costs �12.

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