Colchester owner Robbie Cowling will cut playing budget
Cowling plans to invest in a youth strategy for Colchester
Colchester United owner Robbie Cowling is planning to reduce his subsidy of the playing budget to zero by 2016.
The U's chairman will cut his input to help finance a new training ground and an improved youth set-up.
He told BBC Essex: "The danger is the lower budget could mean the team might struggle and attendances could drop, promotion could be more difficult.
"But I think most fans would prefer to see a sustainable club rather than just rely on Robbie Cowling."
He added: "We've had some good years and the crowds still haven't reached the level we wanted so I think we need to try something different."
Cowling will put £1.4m into next term's playing budget but that will reduce by £300,000 each season until it reaches zero at the end of year five.
Manager John Ward had his budget reduced last season as Colchester went through a transitional period but the former Cheltenham and Carlisle boss retains the support of his chairman.
"I've said no to John more times than I said yes to Paul Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd before him.
"But John's a good manager who knows this level inside out and he won't become a bad manager if he loses his first three games next season, nor will he be ready to takeover at Barcelona if he wins his first three," concluded Cowling.
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