Carlisle United’s increased financial reliance on Edinburgh Woollen Mill is highlighted in the Blues’ latest accounts, which show they owed Philip Day’s firm £1.31m by the end of last season.

That is the result of an extra £860,000 loaned to the club by EWM in the 2017/18 campaign.

EWM’s growing contribution to United’s finances is among the most significant features of Carlisle’s financial statements, which will be presented to shareholders at the club's annual general meeting next Thursday.

The Blues, though, remain reluctant to be drawn on whether EWM’s involvement could eventually lead to a takeover at Brunton Park.

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “We are grateful for the commercial support we get from EWM but beyond that we have nothing to add to what we have said before.”

EWM, whose loans are secured against the club’s assets, have not yet responded to an invitation to comment.

Their loans now account for more than half of United's overall debt, which went up by £245,000 to £2.26m in 2017/18.

The club's new financial figures, meanwhile, show how the Blues spent almost £1m more than they could afford in a campaign they finished 10th in League Two.

It came as Carlisle largely maintained their spending on the team in spite of a drop in turnover and income.

They recorded an overall loss of £121,000 – with EWM's £860,000 loans cancelled out from the club's overall debt by chairman Andrew Jenkins converting £860,000 of his own debt into shares before the end of the accounting period in June.

While that saw Jenkins’ own debt significantly reduced, the co-owner still loaned the club further cash last season, to the tune of £260,000.

The accounts – for United's operational business Carlisle United Association Football Club (1921) Limited – paint a detailed picture of how an underwhelming campaign took its toll on the club's finances.

United’s headline turnover figure went down – from £4.27m to £3.99m – while ticket income, retail income and commercial income all fell significantly.

Matchday ticket income took a particular hit, going down by £250,000, as attendances fell.

United also concede it was a “difficult” season commercially.

According to the accounts, though, the Blues remained among the bigger spenders on their team in League Two in 2017/18.

They cite EFL independent benchmark data which shows they were in the "top six" spenders out of the division's 24 clubs in "total football expenditure" - players’ wages, bonuses, agents’ fees, football staff salaries and costs, and travel and accommodation for away games.

This, Carlisle say, reflected their continued effort to support the team’s bid to get out of League Two, by spending “significantly in excess of what the club could afford [itself] without external funding support.”

They spent £2.6m on “total football expenditure” in 2017/18 – only a small decrease from £2.76m the previous campaign, the small difference a result of paying fewer bonuses in a less successful season.

Clibbens admitted that falling crowds during their disappointing mid-table campaign hit the Blues' finances.

But he said a change of financial approach since then is starting to bear some fruit.

He said: “If you aren’t getting as many supporters through the turnstiles and commercially, it starts to make an impact very quickly in many areas.

“In the second half of the season in particular, from Christmas onwards, it was a difficult time with off-the-field issues like manager and player contracts to be decided, and we were firmly fixed in the table just above halfway, unable to mount a challenge and struggling at home.

“At the same time we had to deliver some difficult messages about the future direction of the club.

“Andrew Jenkins has commented on this being a ‘difficult but necessary transformation’ and I would certainly endorse that.”

He added: “The club has had some hard decisions to make and that continues, but the decisions are for the good of the club, with the aim to have a club that is stronger and successful.

“Crucially this must come without making it fragile.

“We are starting to see the benefits and improvements on and off the field, and the future accounts will reflect that.”

Business turnover in 2017/18 went down from £2.28m to £1.97m, while United's underlying contribution – the amount of money they can put towards team spending before receiving outside support from the likes of EWM – fell from £1.65m to £1.39m.

United also saw a fall in "football fortune" income from player sales and cup ties, from £484,000 to £449,000.

They did, though, see an increase in season-ticket sales, while income from the EFL and Premier League went up from £919,000 to £960,000. Academy grant income from the EFL also increased, from £424,000 to £466,000.

The club's AGM is being held at 7pm in Foxy's Restaurant next Thursday, March 21.

United's accounts are expected to be filed with Companies House in the coming days, but the financial statements have already been made available to shareholders ahead of the AGM.