Carlisle United’s supporters’ trust have said they were surprised Blues co-owner John Nixon divulged so much information about “succession” talks involving Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

CUOSC, who have two directors on the club’s boards, have now gone on to give more details themselves after Nixon’s remarks at last week’s fans’ forum.

Nixon told supporters about the plan which looked set to deliver top-level change at Brunton Park until Covid-19 put a halt to proceedings.

The director also spoke about the “amalgamation” of shares which was under way as part of the talks.

CUOSC have now given a detailed account of their side of things in their weekly briefing to members - whilst also making a pointed request that any party interested in taking over the Blues should be "open" about their plans and not "remote".

The fans’ group, who have a 25.4 per cent stake in United’s holdings company, said “press releases were about to go out” regarding the proposed succession plan in 2019, but the deal then “stalled for a range of reasons including suggested variations being made to the agreed plan.

“The reasons for the stalling continued to stifle the forward movement of the plan during the rest of 2019," they added.

“Then early last year, along came the pandemic and its effects further stymied any progress and looks like impacting on the future too.”

CUOSC said United’s Holdings board, including the Blues’ main shareholders and John Jackson from EWM/Purepay Retail Limited – the firm United owe a seven-figure amount – met again earlier this month to discuss the plan.

“Following that meeting came last Tuesday’s fans’ forum at which John Nixon to our surprise announced further details of the plan, and events in the past months," CUOSC added.

“Given that Jim and Billy Atkinson [CUOSC’s club directors] have fiduciary and confidentiality duties with regard to the club’s board meetings which they attend, they had felt obliged to respect those duties. 

“However, now that another shareholder has spoken freely about the succession situation it unlocks and opens the door for CUOSC to follow that lead.”

CUOSC admitted the succession plan would mean a “change of control” at the top of United but said part of its progress had given the trust “cause for concern”.

Their briefing said: “As the succession plan, if implemented, would constitute a ‘change of control’ the EFL needed to seek assurances regarding the ‘source and sufficiency of funds’ which is normal when clubs are planning to see a change of ownership.

“Put simply, those assurances involve checking the investor has both the required resources, and equally importantly, is legally committed to providing them for two seasons.

“The EFL involvement occurred over many months and led to the suggestions for changing the agreed plan. These potential changes gave us some cause for concern and this was strongly expressed to the other involved parties.”

CUOSC added that they are committed to “succession” and that they take their shareholding – and its associated voting rights – seriously.

They added: “We really want to see succession and are totally committed to doing all we can to bring it about.  We want a very positive change that suits the club and its fans and is seen as very likely to take United forward.

“We have assisted the process of succession by agreeing to the creation of new B shares to extinguish shareholder debt but in a way that did not dilute our voting rights.

“Whilst we know that our shares with voting rights attached are a potential disincentive to investment and succession, they are equally a safeguard and protection to help ensure the club gets a positive change in regime.

“We have consistently said we would reluctantly be prepared to consider diluting our voting rights in order to achieve the ‘right deal’. 

"Of course the other shareholders can do what they want with their shares, but in terms of the ‘right deal’ and a dilution, succession has to mean a change of control.

“It cannot mean that the current ownership regime remains in place and in apparent or real control, but funded by others or significantly influenced by others with the safeguards our votes provide for the club diluted. 

“If for example a staged transition were to take place which may well be possible and appropriate to help to progress a longer term succession, our rights would only be diluted if and when that transition finally becomes a change of control, which the EFL would of course need to approve.”

CUOSC also said it was their strong belief that any interested party should be open about its plans for the club.

EWM/Purepay have consistently made very little comment either about their financial involvement at Brunton Park since 2017, or the “succession” plans.

The trust added: “For CUOSC to consider supporting any planned ‘change of control’ to its conclusion we need any interested party to set out clearly and convincingly their plans to take the club forward.

“This is vital to carry supporters with them.

“We would also need in particular to see a commitment to funding and investment, openness and transparency and to prioritising fan engagement.

“These are all simple reasonable expectations of any person taking on the custody of this great club we all love.”

CUOSC said any potential owner “being remote and not engaging” would not satisfy any possible revamp to football’s ownership legislation which could follow the Government’s “fan-led review” of the game, along with any tightening of the EFL’s owners and directors test.

The trust added that the “mood” of the football world had changed since the demise of Bury and the serious financial problems faced by other clubs, with the expectations of fans about the running of clubs having also shifted.

“Any new majority shareholder, or anyone with control, must be fully prepared to embrace this changed mood and requirements,” added CUOSC.

“We do not intend to comment further on the details of the succession plan until we have met again and had discussions with the other parties to it. Once that happens we will hold a members’ meeting on this issue and other matters of interest.”

United are holding another fans’ forum on Tuesday to answer questions that were not covered last week.

The Blues have not commented further. The News & Star is also seeking comment from EWM/Purepay.