Nigel Clibbens said Carlisle United were working hard to restore the “trust” that some fans may have lost in those in charge.

But the chief executive conceded that the club faced challenges in enhancing the “matchday experience” at Brunton Park.

He also highlighted the long-term stadium issue as fundamental to United’s future.

At a fans’ forum, Clibbens and two of United’s co-owners, Steven Pattison and John Nixon, were accused of presiding over “failure” in their respective tenures at Carlisle.

Clibbens hit back at being called a “failure” while Pattison took issue with being described as “inept”.

When a supporter suggested the matchday experience at Brunton Park was poor, Clibbens admitted: “I think the matchday experience is really difficult for us.

“We try very hard to do what we can, make small steps, but it's a really difficult task. We want to make it better.”

The director said United were in the process of working on a crowd initiative similar to last season’s hugely successful #8kforMK scheme.

He also said events like the fans’ forum, along with supporters’ groups meetings and answering questions from messageboard users, “are a good way to bring fans and club closer together”, suggesting that being open and transparent “might help get some of the trust back."

Clibbens added in response to another point from a fan: “I accept we've got lots of issues but there's no mentality of 'open the door and the fans will come'.

“Nobody's under illusions about the issues; it's about fixing them.”

He referred to other initiatives like the club’s community ticket scheme, kids playing on the pitch, and family ticket deals.

Pattison, meanwhile, said he and his fellow owners had always worked hard to keep the club going and referred to the struggles of certain clubs, such as Chesterfield and Notts County, who had been relegated to the National League despite some heavy spending by owners.

The Carlisle Glass chief was also challenged on what he had contributed to the club since he rejoined the board after briefly stepping down during the aborted Andrew Lapping investment talks of 2015.

The question was asked in light of Pattison having said himself that those seeking to get involved with the club needed to be well heeled.

He said: “What have I fetched to the club, monetary? The guarantee [to the EWM loans]…[and] monies I will not disclose, because I don't look for thanks.

“The amount of money I've written off over the years…it doesn't worry me.

“The amount of work I still do at the club on a daily basis to keep the club going.

“In summer, there are two men [from my firm] down here every day fixing things to get the safety certificate.

“Then there is the work we do in the community, the school of excellence, all started with the Carlisle Glass Youth League.”

Pattison argued that the media should spend more time reporting on the club’s community work.

He also, though, said that a winning team was the best way to get fans back – whilst also saying there were more competing attractions for football fans.

"It's not like it used to be,” he said. “Now folk can stop at home and watch so much football on the television. Jeff Stelling and his gang..."

United directors were also asked why they outsource catering at the club, given chairman Andrew Jenkins runs a successful food firm in Pioneer.

Clibbens said: “When I came in [in 2016] I asked why he doesn't do it now. He said it loses a fortune, he can't make catering pay in this stadium. That's why it's sourced out.”

On the stadium issue, meanwhile, Clibbens said United had spent about £1m over the last five years – not including post-flood insurance money – on the upkeep of an ageing Brunton Park.

Asked about the prospect of Carlisle relocating, or redeveloping their ground, he said that should be a question for both the club and community, including councils, to tackle.

He also said “succession” needed to be resolved at the top of the club before any such talks could progress.

Describing it as a "colossal" issue for the club which would only get more serious the longer it went unresolved, he said: “At some point that [stadium] question is going to have to be faced by people around this place and city. At the moment we can only have an incremental approach to this stadium - fixing things when they break.”

He referred to the recently announced Local Football Facilities Plan, which is said to be allocating £500m “to reinvigorate grassroots football in the community”.

He said: “My personal view is that could be a great opportunity for us to make a generational change in Carlisle, grasp that opportunity to make a footballing hub” that can have range of community benefits.

“These are community, city issues as much as Carlisle issues,” he added. “I personally believe there's an opportunity for this to come together and maybe have a community stadium, with the club at the centre of it, surrounded by other community facilities.

“That can really change what this city is about sporting wise. But we can't do it alone.”

He said that politicians and planners involved in any such talks would want to know who is in charge of the club for the longer-term.

"This stadium is getting older, it isn't going to get any better," he added.