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Colchester chairman 'changed his demands'

PUBLISHED: 11:08 02 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:00 01 July 2010

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling (left) can only sit and watch as Delia Smith enjoys Norwich City giving the Essex club a footballing lesson back in January.

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling (left) can only sit and watch as Delia Smith enjoys Norwich City giving the Essex club a footballing lesson back in January.

David Cuffley

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling wanted Norwich City to be deducted points at the start of next season, it has been revealed - after the long-running feud between the two clubs finally ended last night.

Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling wanted Norwich City to be deducted points at the start of next season, it has been revealed - after the long-running feud between the two clubs finally ended last night.

The Canaries have been ordered by the Football League to pay £425,000 in compensation to Colchester over the recruitment of their management team of Paul Lambert, Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa last August.

City were also fined £75,000 with a further fine of £125,000 suspended for two years - the decision of a football disciplinary commission convened by the League in April - after they admitted a breach of Regulation 20, which relates to the movement of personnel between clubs.

But, much to City's relief, no points deduction was imposed on the club by the commission.

For the first time, it has emerged that Cowling not only wanted a points deduction but, when he realised it would have little effect on City's march to the 2009-10 League One title, he wanted points taken away from City for the start of their Championship campaign in 2010-11.

Soon after news of City's whopping £½m bill emerged, they countered it with good news of their own by confirming that Lambert, Culverhouse and Karsa had all signed new, improved contracts at Carrow Road - as has the man who recruited them in the first place, chief executive David McNally. Full details of the contracts have not been revealed, however.

“Paul has done a fantastic job for us since joining in August and has played his full part in restoring some pride to Norwich City Football Club,” said chairman Alan Bowkett.

“There's been a lot of speculation linking him to other clubs and that's understandable as he is an excellent young manager with a competent and motivated coaching team backing him up. We're delighted he has signed a new deal and demonstrated his commitment to carrying on the job he has made such a fine start to here at Norwich.

“Paul shares the board's ambition and progressive ideals as we work hard together towards our ultimate goal of getting Norwich City back into the Premier League.”

He added: “I'm delighted to confirm that David McNally has signed a new contract. David has worked tirelessly with the rest of the board and the staff at the club to help turn an alarming slide in our fortunes on and off the pitch into a situation where we have positive momentum again.

“We're all looking forward to continuing to serve our unrivalled supporters and working together to meet the significant challenges that still lie ahead for this football club.”

McNally sacked manager Bryan Gunn within a week of the 7-1 opening day defeat by Colchester - and four days later confirmed Lambert, the architect of that disaster, as his successor. Lambert's City went on to win 29 of their remaining 43 league games, charging past the likes of Charlton and Leeds before finishing the season with a nine-point gap at the top of the table, all of which earned the former Celtic star the League One manager of the season award.

Cowling admitted on Monday that he was “happy” with some parts of the commission's finding but added: “I don't think they went far enough with any further sanctions.”

And in a statement yesterday, City's solicitor, Dan Chapman of Leathes Prior, explained just how far Cowling wanted the tribunal to go.

“In respect of compensation payable to Colchester United, Norwich City always maintained they were happy to pay fair and reasonable compensation,” he said.

“That is only right. Throughout this dispute Norwich City made numerous offers of settlement to Colchester, but all offers were rejected. We felt that Colchester failed to engage in the process of negotiation and continually 'moved the goalposts' in terms of what they were seeking and why, and the decision of the FDC has reflected that.

“Norwich City were in a position where they were bidding against themselves, and for that reason it was regrettable that the level of compensation had to be set by the FDC. As Norwich City fans will no doubt have ascertained for themselves as a result of the public comments of Mr Cowling in the media, Colchester also contended in these proceedings that Norwich City should be deducted points for the 2009-10 season.

“Latterly, when it became apparent to Colchester that a points deduction was likely to have little impact on the outcome of the 09/10 season, their position changed to demanding a points deduction in the 2010/11 season.

“Norwich City did admit a breach of Regulation 20. Norwich City were therefore aware that a sanction would be imposed and we are pleased that our submission that a points deduction would be wholly inappropriate and unprecedented was accepted.”

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