There is one club, at least, for whose supporters the existence of a promotion push is almost irrelevant: Blackpool, of course, where there is no success that could be deemed more important than ousting the Oystons.

Considering the Bloomfield Road regime is headed by those found to have “illegitimately stripped” the club of £26.77m then, yes, a decent season in League One probably wouldn’t make up for all that. Hence their stadium remains a shell, boycotted by fans with principles.

All power to those people. This is, though, a rarity. There are many other clubs where supporters are sceptical about the owners but few where such serious grounds – or, in all probability, the stamina – exist to stay away en masse, regardless of results.

What is being examined now at Carlisle is something different, obviously. There is no Oyston here, or elsewhere, thank the lord. In one respect, though, it tiptoes on similar ground.

It is this question: will the glimpse of good times bring people back despite previous reservations? Will the misgivings some have had about the leadership at United over a period be shelved in the name of supporting a push from fifth in League Two?

It is not for articles like this to tell people what to do. We can, though, look at the picture and at least argue that, when all is considered, it is surely still right and fair to turn towards the efforts being made by Steven Pressley and his players.

There has been no active boycott of Brunton Park these past years, more an erosion of support. The fact Carlisle will be close to doubling this season’s attendance average if they succeed with the #8kforMK campaign indicates the ground to make up.

The big picture has to remain in sight and so it was also fair, last weekend, for BBC Radio Cumbria to discuss next season’s playing budget, based on what they had been told by their sources and in light of John Sheridan’s comments after departing as manager. Their coverage brought out a denial from CUOSC, the supporters’ trust, and more debate online.

Wherever the truth lies, one principle ought to be golden. Just because a good period has arrived does not make it wrong to look in the other direction, and ask what foundations would be there should success be achieved. Would this be a one-off rise, or is there the means to build on it?

It can take stomach to ask these things when there is pressure from elsewhere to “focus on the positives”, just as courage is sometimes needed to look at sunnier things amid general gloom.

One Blues vice-president this week urged Radio Cumbria to “give it a rest” and “enjoy the moment”. This is not the job of journalism. All the same, without listening directly, I would hazard a strong guess at James Phillips and co devoting just as much time and enthusiasm, probably more, to that afternoon’s victory against Port Vale and what an eighth win in nine meant for United’s prospects.

Balance, rather than blind drum-beating, should always win. Still, though – if there is something we can take from the VP’s tone it is that exciting possibilities may indeed be unfolding, against pre-season fears, and that yes, it’s still ok to live in the here and now.

Why not do so (without throwing garlands too soon) given that United have, after all, got some key decisions right this season, and have also been good to their word about how they would set about this January window?

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens, at a recent press conference, suggested they had created more budget leeway than in previous winters. CUOSC said likewise in a members’ briefing. These words were followed by five signings in the space of four days - and players of good League Two pedigree in Mark Cullen and Nathan Thomas, a serious prospect in Aston Villa’s Callum O’Hare, necessary defensive cover in Peter Grant and another good creator, Stefan Scougall.

There is no guarantee of success with any of these but there are, at least, reasons to leave a little of the old cynicism at the door when Carlisle have done what they said they would, and tried to be progressive in the market, even if it is within a framework of short-term recruitment which, in itself, leads back to those summer questions.

As for the MK crowd campaign, it can also be praised, given the way it is taking in much broader and brighter ground than past efforts to whip up numbers.

There are 16 games left and the potential for some major afternoons. Views on the steering of United might be too ingrained for a stampede back, and those views must be respected. At the same time, is the desire to see Carlisle win not also deep-rooted, and worth digging back up when they are facing three months of genuine opportunity?

Do the likes of Danny Grainger, Jamie Devitt and Adam Collin not warrant some backing? Does the cause of Pressley, Tommy Wright and Paul Murray not demand an open and positive mind?

Is the distraction of a proper challenge, having been given a fresh nudge behind the scenes, not sufficient?

It is true that United’s mysteries and issues will need to go away eventually. Uncertainty, ownership-wise, cannot be the landscape forever.

It is responsible to keep such things in firm sight. The future will come and it will demand our scrutiny.

But there is not enough in the background that should stop anyone from getting on board right now. The present could, after all, reward our attention with pleasant surprises too.


Unless those running a survey are prepared to lay out all the key issues for the public - including those that might be a little painful to contemplate - then it is a gesture, nothing more.

The EFL’s latest fan survey, shared by its member clubs including Carlisle United, covers plenty of essential ground.

The cost of watching games, the effect of iFollow, community engagement, behaviour towards name it.

It is long and detailed and appears, on the surface, worth engaging with.

Yet then we come to the elephant in the room. Or, to be exact, not the fully fledged elephant but the younger elephant. The reserve team elephant which would have been better off loaned to a zoo that could actually use it.

The Checkatrade Trophy. On page 101 of the 143-page survey, fans are asked to select from a list of reasons why they may not be attending games in that particular competition.

“I don’t have the time,” “The cost of attending,” “It’s difficult for me to attend midweek fixtures” all feature among several, neatly skirting around the reason which, presumably, has to be dumped in “Other”.

It is not as if the EFL have not been told. There has been a persistent boycott movement, record low attendances and a principled hostility to the idea of a lower-league cup being invaded by rich big-club B Teams.

It is that simple. It is a crucial and clear reason for non-attendance. To leave it off the list suggests too many heads remain buried in expensive sand at EFL HQ.

As such, their survey - or this part at least - can be filed with all the others related to the wretched Trophy, which, despite landslide results in one particular direction, also counted for absolutely nothing.