Carlisle United have been rated the fourth best club in the country for "fan engagement" in a new report.

The Blues score highly in "dialogue, governance and transparency".

Out of the 92 clubs in the Premier League and EFL, Carlisle only trail Exeter, Wimbledon and Doncaster in the "Fan Engagement Index", published today by

United's hierarchy have come in for criticism from supporters recently but the Brunton Park club are rated as more open than many others by the report's authors.

They were cited as a club that is "always looking out for opportunities to engage with fans, and looking out for new ideas about how to make fan engagement work better."

Carlisle are rated third best for "dialogue" with fans, which includes the way the club responds to requests for information, stages forums and involves fan representatives.

On "governance", they come second, with clubs rated in this area on "how decisions are made, fans' voices listened to, and their interests taken into account and managed". The involvement of fan organisations, customer charters and supporters' liaison officers are considered in this category.

On "transparency", meanwhile, Carlisle are ranked seventh, with clubs assessed on how information about their activities is shared with fans, including from meetings.

Kevin Rye, founder and director of, says in the report that "there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, but there are things that work that can be measured, and leaders in the game and good examples of fan engagement that need to receive more attention so that others can copy and learn from them."

It is likely that initiatives like the Carlisle United Supporters' Groups meetings, the level of detail included in their annual accounts recently, and other community work will have helped the Blues score highly in the "index", in which fellow League Two side Swindon finished bottom.

Rye, who was formerly with Supporters Direct, added that the research was from publicly-available information. He added: "Fan engagement can seem at times an all-consuming part of running a football club. It requires patience, time and resources.

"Sometimes it can be argued that such resources might be better spent elsewhere, on infrastructure, playing matters or on marketing/sales output.

"But fan engagement is at the heart of a club's purpose and identity, and many of those who excel at fan engagement are often the ones we hold up as the best or most balanced clubs overall."

A number of Blues fans on social media have poured scorn on the report's findings.

United's positive standing in the index also comes in stark contrast to a survey last year which found United had the ninth worst owners in the country and rated poorly for transparency. The latest version of that poll, by AgainstLeague3, is set to be revealed soon.

Some fans have also chanted against the board recently with the Blues struggling in fourth bottom position in League Two.

United have been invited to comment.

The full report can be read at