Carlisle United have confirmed that Edinburgh Woollen Mill are funding the position of director of football – held by David Holdsworth – at Brunton Park.

The club have told supporters that EWM, United’s main financial backers, are providing “ring-fenced” cash to ensure the position continues.

The comment, from chief executive Nigel Clibbens in response to users of forum via the Carlisle United Supporters' Groups, is the first direct public confirmation that EWM are paying for Holdsworth’s position.

“EWM have provided ring-fenced funding for a Director of Football which we otherwise could not afford,” Clibbens writes.

Holdsworth has been at the club since summer 2018 and is known to have close connections to EWM and their billionaire boss Philip Day.

In a directors’ press conference in August 2018, shortly after Holdsworth's arrival, Clibbens had said: “In terms of his wages, all employees of the club are paid by the club, and David is no different. All of the cash for funding the club goes into one pot and the club then decides how to spend it.

“There’s no ring-fencing of specific funding for specific individuals, or anything like that.”

When the apparent difference between these comments was highlighted by the News & Star, Clibbens said his 2018 remark was intended to clarify that funding was not ring-fenced for any particular individual, ie Holdsworth, rather than the post itself.

This followed questions about whether the creation of the DOF position may have affected the playing budget.

Clibbens said the club have indeed received EWM money since that time specifically for a director of football role, but it has always been down to the club exactly how, and on whom, this is spent.

Holdsworth was appointed to the role by the club's Holdings board that summer.

EWM have been loaning United money since 2017, their loans secured against club assets.

They have faced calls from some fans, and requests from the media including the News & Star, to be more open about their involvement at the club, having said very little publicly about the situation.

In further CUSG replies, Clibbens “denied strongly” that Day’s firm were "propping up" the current regime or that their involvement was a barrier to takeover by another party.

He acknowledged fans wanted to hear more from them, but said the firm's actions were more important.

“They prefer to work in the background when it comes to their support for Carlisle United, and some fans don’t like this approach and want to hear something from them,” Clibbens said.

“We respect the EWM position as their support is invaluable to the club.”

Asked what would happen if they ever called in their loans to the club, which stood at £1.31m in United’s last accounts and have increased since, Clibbens said this would be done according to legal agreements associated with the funding arrangement.

He said there had been no demand from EWM for repayments so far and that the firm were “committed to ongoing future funding” of the club.

But he added: “I can give the fans comfort that our agreement allows for an extended repayment period so, even if hypothetically we were asked to repay, we would have adequate and sufficient time to comply without it adversely affecting the club.

“Combined with EWM's commitment to ongoing future funding as well, this gives the club the confidence in our financial position now, and looking ahead.”

He said it was wrong simply to describe EWM as “a bank” for the club, saying the relationship was deeper than that.

He also said EWM were allowing United to spend more on their football budget than they could otherwise afford, and were also helping the club in retail and commercial departments.

He added that the more fans who could regard EWM's involvement at the club as positive, the better.

He said: “The more people who join with us who can look past the sins of the past, and be open-minded to the future and the benefits of having EWM on our side, the better for the club.

“For me, that is not about supporting or propping up shareholders, custodians, board, or individuals. It’s not about being a cheerleader or a happy-clapper either.

“More support and positivity helps grows our income, increases our chances of success and speed things up. The opposite equally applies too.”

Clibbens was also asked about the involvement of John Jackson, EWM’s group financial controller, on United’s holdings board.

The chief executive said Jackson’s stance of having not commented on his Blues position was unlikely to change “in the short-term”.

Clibbens added: “John’s Holdings board role is primarily focussed on overseeing the commercial funding agreement with CUFC and representing EWM interests arising from it.

“In normal business, when you have a party providing money to a company in the way EWM does, it’s normal for them to be on the company board.”

On Holdsworth, Clibbens added that he held an “important” role at the club and has made “a positive impact and made improvements to what we do” in his short time at Brunton Park so far.

He said the DOF was heavily involved in United’s attempt to become less financially “fragile”, which has seen a change in spending approach in recent times.

“It takes time and perseverance to see it through and it brings risks and problems along the way,” Clibbens said.

“David is playing a crucial role in making sure we manage this period and are successful on the pitch going forward.”