COLCHESTER have denied they will have to play their early League I home games at Ipswich next season.
The Essex club, whose departure from Layer Road was accompanied by relegation from the Championship, insist their new stadium will be ready on target.
That means travelling Town fans can look forward to visiting the 10,000 arena in the Cuckoo Farm area of the city.
Keith Turner, the former Essex County Cricket Club safety officer who was appointed stadium operations manager in March, said the Ipswich plan was a contingency.
He remains confident the Community Stadium – it is yet to gain a sponsorship tag – will be up and running in time to host a pre-season friendly.
“There are a lot of people working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure we do start the season at the new stadium,” said Turner.
“The truth of the matter is I am very confident that everything will be ready. We might have small areas of one stand that may not be quite finished when the turnstiles open, but it won’t be long before they are.
“Hopefully we’ll have an understanding public, and I’m sure they will be because once they get in and sample the views from the stands of the new stadium, as well as the facilities that are there, they’ll see it really is fantastic compared to what people have put up with at Layer Road. It’s in an entirely different league.”
Turner accepted the club are in a race against time to get the necessary licences.
“It’s going to go to the wire because we have to have a couple of ramp-up events before we’re actually granted a licence to have our full capacity at the ground,” he explained.
“We’ll probably have an open day and we’ll quickly follow that with a friendly game or an alternative game of football where we could maybe get to half capacity before the season starts.”
The last of Town’s nine visits to cramped Layer Road was in September 2005, when the League I game finished 1-1.
The 5,400-capacity ground has been home to the U’s since their formation in 1937 and has staged football since 1909.