Billionaire businessman Philip Day was at Brunton Park to watch Carlisle United's first game of the season.

We can reveal the Edinburgh Woollen Mill tycoon, whose firm are major backers of the Blues, was sat with the club's hierarchy at Tuesday's EFL Trophy game against Fleetwood.

As our exclusive photo shows, Day joined director of football David Holdsworth at the game, which United lost 3-1.

Co-owners Andrew Jenkins, John Nixon and Steven Pattison were also in the directors' area as well as some of the Blues' vice-presidents.

It was a rare appearance at Carlisle's ground by the businessman.

The visit to Brunton Park came with Day spending a short period of time back in the UK.

Neither United nor EWM would comment. A source close to the businessman said: "He was in the country for a couple of days and was invited to the match."

Day is based outside the UK and works between Switzerland, London and Dubai for business.

His appearance at Brunton Park may encourage fans as to Day's interest in the League Two club.

And it comes at a time Day's firm have long been linked with increased involvement at United.

The 54-year-old's firm have had close ties with the Cumbrians for a number of years, particularly since 2017 when EWM set up a loan facility for United, also funding the director of football position held by Holdsworth since 2018.

The Blues' most recent accounts showed the club had borrowed £2.1m from the firm, while in February United co-owner John Nixon said the prospect of taking "a share and chunk of the club" was "on their radar" and that “succession” talks at the Blues were now down to EFL “mechanics”.

Fans' trust CUOSC recently said United had not drawn on the EWM loan facility for the last 12 months, while it is understood revenue from the sales of players such as Jarrad Branthwaite have also reduced the need for additional financial help from Day's firm.

CUOSC's AGM last month heard that there was “no change” in the situation regarding ownership succession.

There was further intrigue among United fans earlier this year when it emerged Day was involved in the setting up of a new business called Eden Valley Sport Limited.

It led to speculation that it could be a vehicle linked to future ownership change at United. EWM declined to comment, while there is no evidence of any business activities connected to the company at this stage. Day is the only shareholder but as of January 6 is no longer a director.

That is John Jackson, EWM’s group financial controller and who sits on the Blues’ strategic Holding company board, is an Eden Valley Sport director, as is John Herring, who is on the board of many of Day’s other firms.