Carlisle United’s director has answered questions from fans as the 2020/21 season draws to a close.
John Nixon anwered the following questions at the recent fans’ forum.
Q1. Howard Pimblett – Since taking ownership in 2008, despite stating Championship aspirations, we have been relegated from League 1, have yet to enjoy a promotion, and have made no progress with regards to a modern community stadium. Some may call it a period of failure. What do you, Andrew and Steve Pattison consider your greatest achievement during your ownership?
“Thanks for the question Howard, and we’ll try to give a balanced answer, taking into account the much wider picture of running a football club.
“Achievements cannot be summarised in only winning and losing, but as directors we must try to provide the finance, the infrastructure, the stability, the processes, the premises, the facilities and the personnel to have good outcomes.
“Like all fans when we win we celebrate, when we draw we conjugate and debate, and when we lose we deflate.
“It is always the intent to have the right manager and the right coaching staff, and it is the manager who will recruit the right players to get the results we all want out on the pitch. In addition here at Carlisle United, we are seeing that contracts are becoming one to two year, with options, and that means that we – like most clubs in Leagues One and Two, have player turnover of between six to 14 players every 12 to 24 months during the transfer windows, so continuity now is much more hazardous.
“Looking back we celebrated two successive visits to Wembley losing to Southampton, who are now in the Premier League, and winning against Brentford who, again, are now in the Premier League.
“The completion of the training pitch on the original car park, behind the Waterworks End, provided a surface similar to the main pitch, but we needed to invest considerably in Creighton to provide additional training area and space for our academy.
“As we all know that’s a public and third-party site, so brings challenges aligned with that, but it is and has been very useful for our under-18 squad in particular.
“On the youth side we have laid good foundations to bring through ‘home-grown’ players. Some have been picked up from other clubs at the age of 16, or slightly younger, like Gary Madine, Mark Gillespie, Brad Potts and Andy Cook, with others coming from closer to home, like Kyle Dempsey, Dean Henderson, James Trafford, Joe White, Jarrad Branthwaite, Liam McCarron and Josh Galloway.
“In addition, we have given a league opportunity and developed Premier League players like Jordan Pickford, James Chester, Liam Cooper, Oliver Norwood and Adam Clayton, and we have provided platforms for players like Richard Keogh, Danny Graham, Hallam Hope and Alex Gilliead, to name but a few.
“Following the floods of 2015 we decided to put additional investment back into the club (in addition to the insurance) and build a new office unit in the Pioneer Stand, new laundry facilities, new coaching offices and a bespoke media room (which has received excellent reviews, being compared to facilities provided at the top levels).
“The decision was also taken to relocate the press/media to the Pioneer Stand, along with a new fibre system which gave a centralised camera position, and forms the base fopr our iFollow coverage used in the last season.
“Both roofs of the cantilever stands on either wing of the West Stand were in need of major repair and have been completed over the last two or three years.
“During this time we negotiated and have brought fan support into the boardroom, in the form of a trust director on both boards at Carlisle United. This is the direction the current fan-led review is promoting and advising other clubs to now take.
“All of this work, and there’s much more besides, gives the management, staff, playing staff ,coaching staff and academy staff the stability to perform and get results on the field. and give fans, directors and shareholders something to savour. Play-offs and promotion are the aim, and we will continue to strive towards these goals.
“Football clubs are complex businesses and the directors will happily discuss with you any queries you may have, so please get in touch with Nigel Clibbens if you wish to arrange.”
Q2. Howard Pimblett – You stated that “you have run out of cash and that we as fans have been patient with you”. What proactive steps are you making towards succession, or were all the eggs in the EWM basket. Also, how does it feel to have £2.1 million personal guarantees hanging over you?
“I think the phrase ‘running out of cash’ is not entirely as I meant. We had as directors (and one in particular) put considerable amounts of cash into the club, and there comes a point in time when you stop and look for others to help with this process.
“This happened with EWM but even during their time we have, as directors, still put some additional cash into the club, and all of this has been written into equity to protect the club from mounting debt.
“The fit with EWM was good. A local company, moving their HQ to Carlisle, and they have a long-term interest in the club.
“None of us could predict the COVID pandemic of 2020 but as a club, with EWM support (even through their administration) we are emerging with cash in the bank and a solid base to move into a new and hopefully more normalised world.
“The personal guarantees are something we think anyone who loves their football and their club would do, and so we have no worries on that score. As with all plans we have a preferred route, but also plan B and C, which we could pursue if required.”
Q3. David Brown – When would you expect to stand down as a director of the club and a representative at the FA and EFL and what would make you decide that now is the time?
“This year I’m stepping down as the chairman of the EFL Trust, having done 10 years in that position.
“I’m being asked to join other committees on the FA and EFL, which I’m currently considering, and I’m the League Two representative on the EFL Board for the coming season.
“As with all questions, fans are welcome to contact us at any time if they have any particular concerns or queries. Please do get in touch with Nigel Clibbens in the first instance if this is the case.”