Carlisle United’s chief executive has hinted at a breakthrough in talks over the club’s debt – as a takeover moves closer.

Nigel Clibbens said there has been “more progress” made this week in discussions over the Piataks’ proposed takeover.

The £2.6m debt to Purepay Retail Limited has long been described as hurdle to a change of control at Brunton Park.

The Blues director was asked at an online fans’ forum hosted by United’s supporters club London Branch if there had been any recent correspondence with the company.

Clibbens said: “We’ve given updates at forums about what’s been going on, and we’re in a good place with that as I see it now.

“Things can change, and have changed [as we’ve gone along], but we’re in a decent place now and, as the [Piatak] family said on Saturday, progress has been made and I think some more progress has been made this week, so that’s good.”

The Piataks, in a social media post last weekend, said: “Progress is being made on the transaction.”

News and Star: Nigel ClibbensNigel Clibbens (Image: Barbara Abbott)

Clibbens, referring to that comment, said: “Since that came out on Saturday, I would say we’ve had a reasonably good week this week and further progress has been made.

“Things remain very much on track and moving forward and really positive.”

Clibbens was asked later in the forum about what a "resolution" to the debt could mean - a reference to a comment by Tom Piatak snr last month - such as whether that could mean the debt being paid, removed or a repayment plan agreed.

He said: "It could be any of those; it could mean the debt goes away, it could be the debt paid off at whatever level, it could mean it stays and it's paid off over a period of time, or something else done with it. This is what we've been trying to agree for the last two years or so.

"I think we’re getting close to a resolution on that.

"However it's resolved, the key bit is it's dealt with so that everybody knows what is going to happen with it.

"As we sit here now, the debt is on demand. In theory we could get a phonecall saying, 'Pay us £2.6m back'. That's not very good for anyone coming in - they need certainty, and that's what discussions have been about.

"Whatever happens, I think it will be very simple."

Tom Piatak snr last month said the Florida-based family, via the company Castle Sports Group, would like to seal a deal in the October 14-20 period.

The last day of that period falls on Friday but, while Clibbens did not comment on the potential timescale for completing a takeover, he sounded an optimistic note on the situation generally.

The director went on to explain to supporters some of the stages of the deal.

He said: “In terms of completing a deal and ultimately moving forward with the Piataks, there’s a number of things that have to be put in place.

News and Star: The Piatak family are hoping to seal a takeover deal for the BluesThe Piatak family are hoping to seal a takeover deal for the Blues (Image: Barbara Abbott)

“The first thing is agreement with the existing shareholders about what happens to their shares. That has to be converted into a legal agreement, a share purchase agreement. That is well on the way.

“As part of that, [supporters’ trust] CUOSC have agreed to dilute their shareholding, and as part of that they’ve got a process to go through.

“That’s advancing well as I understand it, from speaking to [CUOSC’s United board representatives] Billy [Atkinson] and Nigel [Davidson].

“What that will entail is that a new shareholder agreement will need to be put in place between the new shareholders, which will be Castle Sports Group and the trust.

“Alongside that, there is the EFL clearance process to go through. That can only take place in earnest after all the other pieces of the jigsaw are complete.

“Some things can go in parallel, some have to go in sequence, and eventually the pieces should fit together and we’re well on with that process.”

Clibbens said that, while the EFL’s owners’ and directors’ test was “much more stringent” these days, “there’s nothing to fear as far as I’m concerned”.

He added that one of the recent regulations limited what clubs can say about takeovers, particular regarding the EFL process.

“I don’t want fans to get too bogged down with where we are with the EFL,” he added.

“There’s nothing to be concerned about. There are other issues to resolve first – if we can get those resolved we can talk about the EFL.”

Clibbens went on to say the existing owners had agreed a deal “a while ago”, since when most of the time has been “spent on due diligence and dealing with the outstanding issues around Purepay, etc.

“That’s proceeding nicely as I see it.”

Tom snr and Patty Piatak are expected to attend United's League One game at Portsmouth this weekend.

Thanks to the London Branch for allowing the News & Star to attend the online forum.