Every few months over recent years people have come to me asking what can be done regarding Carlisle United, and if there is any way they can help. Often it has been difficult to say what, if anything, was possible.

This particular time, though, the approach came from people who are very successful in the area; people I trust and who I know have the club at heart.

I didn’t have all the information and there was only so much I could tell them about the ownership and debt situation at Brunton Park, and what those in charge felt about the future.

Others, though, had contacts that could help them get closer to this information. Phonecalls were made, enquiries were made and the impression that came back was that people were open to discussions, which was great.

We were not coming in and stating we wanted to take over the club. It was not as heavy as that. Our question was simply: can we help?

We are all people living in Carlisle, with the same idea of having a community-based football club – just trying to get it back to how it was.

We feel we have done things properly. A member of our party called someone on the board at United, and the response was fair. It was recommended we approached Philip Day as well, as his Edinburgh Woollen Mill firm is the main sponsor, so we also went down those channels.

I would describe all these talks as informal and preliminary.

It then got to the stage where, as a group, we were advised to put things down in black and white, so it could all be put to Philip Day.

We did that, and were told things would be discussed this week.

Unfortunately things started to come out, not from our end, but either way the media had got wind of certain aspects and were going to run stories on what was happening.

I am a part of the media, via BBC Radio Cumbria and this column, and my view was to be as open and transparent as possible. That is why I confirmed the situation on Saturday and explained what I felt I could.

I thought it was better to deal with it that way – address it, and make a statement – rather than run the risk of seeing the story reported in a way that wouldn’t have been as accurate or complete.

I thought that would be better for the supporters rather than leave them having to put two and two together and getting five.

I commented as I did only after making the appropriate call to the Carlisle United board and to Day’s side, and the news then broke.

I know some people will ask how transparent we are being when we are not naming the business people in our group at this stage. All I can say is that I wouldn’t put my name to something if I didn’t trust the people involved.

They are people I have known for a long time, I know how successful they are and – more importantly – I know what Carlisle United means to them.

We have ideas on how to make the club better. If the answer is no, because those in charge want to do it their own way, that’s fine. If they have different plans to take it forward, so be it.

If we are successful, then great. Either way, I want to stress that all we are trying to do here is help, not stitch anyone up. It is a case of seeing where the land lies and looking at what is possible.

Since I moved to this area, I have realised that the state of Carlisle United and the future of the club is an everyday conversation. People are passionate about it. That’s what drives me mad about attendances dropping below 4,000. I know from experience that support is out there. I also know, from the number of people who have got in touch from a commercial point of view, that more are keen to back the club again if there are signs of it moving forward.

The reaction over the weekend was largely positive. Many people were asking questions. You would like to answer them all, but sometimes you can’t. What we will try and do, though, is keep everyone in the loop as much as we can if this develops.

That’s why I responded as I did on Saturday, and made sure the news came out on our terms, rather than through leaks, or there being more secrecy. I know what supporters feel about that. It’s better to be pro-active and up front and honest.

If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – we will be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say we have done everything right by the people involved at the club, along with the sponsors and supporters.

I would rather do that and fail, than not even try.

Fans’ trust CUOSC said over the weekend they were not aware of our approach. That is completely fair.

So far, we have just spoken to a couple of board members and the main sponsor’s people. If things went further, and became any more formal, we would then snap into action in all ways.

For the moment, it is a case of waiting to see if we hear more from Philip Day’s side of things. If we don’t – again, so be it, and we will walk away.

We are not going to be aggressive. We are not going to get embroiled in a battle to try and make it happen.

You never know – there might be other plans in place behind the scenes to take Carlisle to another level, without our involvement.

That would be great, too. All we want is for the club to be successful.


It’s sad when a manager loses his job, because it means Carlisle United haven’t been doing as well as they should be – but it’s also now an exciting time.

The club say they have had over 100 applicants to replace Steven Pressley, and in the game today there are lots of talented coaches and managers, and also people who are quite willing to drop down to League Two.

There are also relatively young names out there who would be more likely to bring the crowds back than others.

When that sort of candidate is mentioned, it is often said they would need an old head next to them.

I don’t always agree with this. Eddie Howe had Jason Tindall next to him from the outset, Grant McCann has gone along with Cliff Byrne – assistants of a similar age. Alex Neil didn’t have an elder statesman next to him when he started out.

You might only have the budget to bring in yourself and an assistant manager. That No2 might not be a veteran but could be someone who is clued up on all the latest coaching methods, modern players, systems and so on.

That could bring a freshness to the training ground and the club.

You can still have an older mentor, but that might be someone on the other end of the phone. At Carlisle, David Holdsworth is already in the building with experience you can also lean on.

Sometimes people get fixated on having a wise old head, but if you have played the game, and been in the game, you should always have five or six managers you have played under who will take a phonecall and offer a bit of advice.

An older person might not want to work at the club every day of the week, either. He might prefer to be around a couple of days, or sit in the stand and advise from there.

When it comes to the hands-on side of things, it might be a case of looking at things differently.