The already strained relations between Norwich City and Colchester United reached a new low this week, when U’s chairman Robbie Cowling refused to offer the Canaries’ extra tickets for the January 16th clash – despite there being little chance of them being sold.
It’s common practice at the Weston Homes Community Stadium to extend the initial 1,900 away allocation if required – as was the case when Leeds came to town early on.
But Cowling – who never minces his words to be fair – has refused to help the U’s promotion rivals because of the on-going row over compensation, after Paul Lambert left Essex for Norfolk in August.
Demand for tickets is sure to exceed availability and with Cowling acting in this way, it could open up a whole new can of worms.
According to Canary messageboards, many Norwich supporters have already bought seats in the home areas and with this latest news, many more could follow suit.
I don’t need to tell you what the possible implications of such actions are. Cowling will know that this is a possibility and for that reason alone, Tuesday’s statement was foolish.
For a chairman of a League One football club to act in such a spiteful manner is surprising and he’s clearly got a huge chip on his shoulder regarding the whole affair.
Maybe it’s a case of small man syndrome – or should I say small club syndrome – and even if City are deemed to have been underhand in their pursuit of the Scot, the way Cowling has played out proceedings in the local media is a poor show.
But the really sad thing is that he’s punishing the innocent by refusing to grant Norwich extra tickets – after all, City supporters are not to blame for the Lambert affair.
The Canary faithful have shown phenomenal loyalty this season and on more than one occasion, the ‘sold out!’ signs have gone up outside away ends across the country.
They would have had no problem selling 3,000 tickets – which is what Leeds got I’m told – for League One’s East Anglian derby, but obviously that is now not going to be the case.
You might say that Cowling is perfectly within his rights to cap the Canaries’ following, and he is. But the fact that he’s willing to forsake a possible £30,000 in revenue – his words, not mine – just to make a point marks a new low in this sorry affair.
The sooner the FA come to a decision and decide what, if any, punishment is deemed appropriate, the sooner both clubs can put this feud behind them – although it’s fair to say that there may be some needle for many years to come.
Meanwhile, what a cruel game football can be sometimes. City did not deserve to crash out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night but after a spirited showing, an equaliser with 15 seconds left and the subsequent 6-5 penalty shoot-out meant the Wembley dream was over.
But they can take great heart in more than matching a promotion rival – and make no mistake, despite their ten point deduction, Saints will be in the mix come May – and the Canaries have a perfect opportunity to bounce back on Saturday in the huge League One contest with Huddersfield.
And if they can emerge victorious, it would put some real daylight between them and Lee Clark’s side.