Carlisle United chief executive Nigel Clibbens says the club have spent more money on the team this season than last year.

Clibbens says the increase in the size of the squad has seen more funds committed, including a further increase since the campaign began.

The director said other areas, such as the appointment of a new analyst, had also seen spending rise off the pitch.

Clibbens was responding to questions from fans as he rejected suggestions there had been “cost-cutting” regarding the team.

In a Q&A involving fans from forum via the Carlisle United Supporters’ Groups, Clibbens said: “Our spending on football has increased this season and continues to rise since August.

“The growth in size of the senior outfield squad has been accompanied by an increase in the cost of the squad – not cost cutting.”

Clibbens said the club’s player budget, including estimate of bonuses, was higher at August 2019 than in August 2018.

He also said it had increased further by the end of this January – and was also higher now than the previous January.

“At every point it has been higher and gone up,” he added.

“Also, elsewhere in the football department, we have increased spending. It is higher than last season.

“For example, we recently hired the club’s first football analyst [spending more than we saved by Nathan Rooney leaving] to support Chris [Beech] and the team.”

Analyst Jacob Blain was recently brought in, weeks after first-team coach Rooney, who was on loan from Fleetwood, returned to the latter.

“There are other examples too,” Clibbens added. “Again, that is not cost-cutting. It is supporting the manager / head coach during the season as our finances have allowed.”

Clibbens also answered fans’ questions about the involvement of financial backers Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

He insisted that Philip Day’s firm are “not running the club”, stressing that United directors remained in charge of Brunton Park affairs, and that none of the Blues' debt to EWM had been repaid - for instance from recent transfer windfalls - and nor were any such repayments planned.

Clibbens also denied that a new company set up by EWM’s billionaire boss Day was “related” to the club.

Eden Valley Sport Ltd was established last year, with Day the sole shareholder, with EWM’s Jackson and John Herring as directors.

It has led to speculation that the new company could be a vehicle linked to future ownership “succession” at Brunton Park.

Asked about the firm, Clibbens said: “As John Jackson is a director there is an indirect link. “There is no shareholder connection and it’s not related to us.

A question to fans’ trust CUOSC about last year’s resignation of chairman John Kukuc – said to be over a mystery “proposal” which saw a request for a quick decision without wider consultation, brought this reply: “Other parties involved in the meeting concerned insisted that a decision be made immediately.

“That decision was though subject to further consideration and approvals.

“The proposal is still a live one which is potentially important for the future of the club and its fans. We cannot divulge any details at this point but will do so as soon as this is possible.”

CUOSC recently said there had been a “flurry of activity” in discussions about “succession”. Further details have not been revealed.

Clibbens, meanwhile, was asked by fans about the process of appointing David Holdsworth as director of football.

Despite Holdsworth’s connections with Day and EWM, Clibbens said “directors made the decision, not EWM”.

He also said there were no other candidates for the post.

He said: “Directors from [CUFC] Holdings met and interviewed David and, as a result of discussions at that board, Holdings concluded David was the one for the job, and so he joined the club. No further process was judged as required.”

Clibbens last year confirmed that EWM were providing “ring-fenced” funding for the DOF role.

The chief executive also insisted future loan deals for Leeds players could still happen, in line with Holdsworth’s comments following the sales of Liam McCarron and Josh Galloway to the Elland Road club, despite none having been struck so far.

Referring to a previous comment, Clibbens said: “The key is “should we want to consider any of their players for loan spells with us”.

“Players and both clubs need to see the same opportunity. None have happened to date. That doesn’t mean they won’t in future.”

The director also talked about the long-term stadium issue, saying any future scheme would require clarity on “succession” at the club, as well as wider input.

He said: “In the five-and-a-half years since 30 June 2014 the club has spent approximately £1m on the stadium from its own resources, plus the proceeds of the 2015 flood. This has gone to maintain and renew facilities. 

“There remains no ability for the Company to self-fund a new stadium from its normal trading activities [we make losses and need cash, so there is no surplus cash to build].

“This severely constrains the options for the club. Meaningful progress beyond the current incremental approach to renewal will need a united and community-based approach.

“I personally believe the Local Football Facilities Plan could be the catalyst. It is a once in a generation opportunity for Carlisle and its community. But it could pass us by if we don’t explore the possibilities.

“We need a community vision to look beyond a new 3G pitch, and some pitch drainage here and there, to something that can transform, inspire and create huge community benefits.

“This inevitably requires long-term planning and leadership and crucially also community and political ambition and vision. From the club side, it needs certainty over the future direction of the club, which requires resolution of questions over succession.”