Monday, April 22, 2013

Higgs Reveals O'Toole Offer

Before Saturday's game with Accrington Stanley, chairman Nick Higgs took part in a Q+A session with supporters, which the club tweeted updates from for all to read. A few interesting statements were made by Higgs that would certainly excite supporters heading in to the summer.

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He explained that John Ward can spend the budget 'as he wants' this summer but that he is looking to make a few changes as opposed to the wholesale changes we've witnessed in recent years. The belief is that we have the basis of a decent team and require the spine of that team to commit themselves to us as quickly as possible. That would allow Ward to make signings as is necessary to improve the team. Higgs revealed that he was in negotiations with both Steve Mildenhall and Mark McChrystal over long-term deals and that he hoped we could conclude things soon. Deadlines have been set to all players because the club want things finalised as early as possible this summer having learnt from the mistakes of this time last year.

Most importantly, however, Higgs answered a question where he confirmed that an offer had been made to John-Joe O'Toole to bring him to the club on a permanent basis. He still has a year left to run on his current Colchester United contract but it is thought that they will release him in the summer. Whether that is entirely true or not remains to be seen because the other suggestion is that Colchester will release him to us if we agree to start paying his wages as soon as he signs. Higgs wouldn't be drawn one way or the other in regards to how confident he was that a deal would happen but he set out that a deadline had been given to JJ to accept the offer. The tough-tackling central midfielder made no secret of his desire to play at as high a level as possible but he enjoyed being part of this football club and hopefully the lure of potential success next season will persuade him to join.

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There was key information disclosed about the UWE Stadium and the Sainsburys Section 106 being signed by the relevant people too. They hope this will happen within the next fortnight and excitement grew tenfold as Higgs told of the construction taking just 64 weeks to complete. He reiterated that the club would own the stadium and that when contracts are signed there will be no sudden hike in building costs as there is a 'fixed' agreement written in to it. Regardless of any price increases or decreases, the club will pay the fee agreed at this stage in the papers.

Among other things, this was the bulk of the Q+A session. I'm pleased to hear the club are being proactive this year in achieving the squad (and stadium) that we all dream of. We need a bit of luck along the way but those who try and make things happen are often rewarded. Let's hope that's the case this summer.

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