Carlisle United chief executive Nigel Clibbens has spelled out the importance of the Blues selling players so they can maintain their current spending levels.

The director, meanwhile, has said that reported income from the departures of George Tanner and Aaron Hayden has been "overstated" in the media.

And Clibbens suggested that proceeds from the star defenders' sales will not be used to repay any of the seven-figure debt to Purepay Retail Limited.

In a detailed update on the club website, Clibbens described the current financial situation a Brunton Park.

He said: "The club continues to need around £500k of new cash each year. It will need more in 2021/22.

"In reality, we cannot afford what we spend on football now without selling players. The £500k needed is even before any new major investment spending, or year-to-year variance in business costs or business turnover, or unplanned spending. 

"We have to get that £500k extra cash in to simply maintain our existing football spending levels, which everyone knows still gives us far less spending power than most of our rivals, and stand still off the field [which in reality is to go backwards and build problems for later].

"If we don’t achieve new player sales each year we are reliant on collecting the guaranteed outstanding instalments on old deals, or unpredictable add-ons and sell-ons to help us to survive.

"If these are insufficient we can be faced with a big cash ‘hole’ which cannot be quickly fixed. The consequences can last years."

Clibbens said United's financial position has "improved" thanks to the sales of Hayden to Wrexham and Tanner to Bristol City.

The deals have been widely reported as worth in the region of £200,000-250,000 in Hayden's case and £300,000 with Tanner.

Clibbens, though, suggested part of the reported amounts were not guaranteed to come to the Blues.

"It should be noted the guaranteed element of the transfer fees reported in the media for Hayden and Tanner are inaccurate and overstated," he said.

"I accept that speculation is the consequence of undisclosed fees. 

"Also, in terms of guaranteed cash, only a portion of what is due to be received in total has been paid up front so far, and the rest comes over a much longer period."

Clibbens' update showed that there were no planned debt repayments in 2021/22, other than £40,000 to the EFL.

United owe more than £2m to Purepay, who have links to the firm United had borrowed that amount from since 2017, Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

The director said United expect to show an overall profit of about £400,000 in their audited accounts for the 2020/21 financial year.

That includes a recurring loss of around £550,000 before profits from player sales of about £975,000.

Clibbens said United suffered lost income of around £1.2m during the lockout of fans amid the Covid-19 crisis.

But he added: "We ended the financial year with a very strong working capital position compared with previous years."

This, he said, was a result of aspects such as cash being conserved during lockdowns, and recent player sales and add-on money from previous deals.

"Again, no debt repayments were made in 2020/21 [debt interest incurred remains unpaid]," he added.

Clibbens said United also had to use their current resources to meet the repayment of short-term PAYE and VAT deferrals under HMRC Covid schemes, develop playing assets for the future, build cash reserves as contingency and on day-to-day operational spending.

He added: "In our current ownership and funding structure, and until there is any change [and there is no guarantee this will change even with succession], we have to be financially self-sufficient.

"That remains the approach across the club. Finding the right balances and making the right spending and selling decisions is the challenge.

"We have no benefactor to top up our own spending or provide investment money, or bail us out if needed.

"Without that comfort and safeguard, we have to recognise the risks we face and take steps to deal with it ourselves within the club by the decisions we make."

Clibbens' "no benefactor / bail out" remark appeared to be in contrast to a comment made by co-owner John Nixon at May's fans' forum, when he said: "We've asked the question of Purepay, if we want more funds can we come and ask you for them. The answer was yes."

United, though, said the two comments were "consistent", saying that while Nixon has established that the question can indeed be asked of Purepay, Clibbens must plan for the club to be self-sufficient without the assumption a request for such bail-out money would be met.

Clibbens also said United's proceeds from "potential windfall gains" from the sales of players "provide some assurance of cash flows in coming years. This approach is central to the plan we must follow as a self-financing club." 

Clibbens said United started the 2021/22 financial year, as normal, with a "significant budgeted overall loss", which would be higher than the usual £500,000 becuse of the impact of Covid on finances.

"No additional cash for new investment is expected to be injected," he added. "Any cash for investment, including any extra off-the-field spending, will again need to be self-funded by 1921 [the club's operational company] outperforming its operating budgets."

Clibbens added: "The major financial challenge still remains the need for long-term new investment capital - a challenge that is growing with every passing day as the stadium ages and the wider game advances, and we need to spend more to keep up.

"We understand this and are doing what we can operationally to deal with it.

"Successes being achieved now are not guarantees of successes in the future, and there can be fallow periods.  We must be mindful of this, and not to take recent sales for granted, or think we can sell and improve without reinvesting.

"Overall, financially, on a day-to-day basis, the club is in the best position since I joined in June 2016."

Clibbens said feedback from fans had shown recognition of the need to sell players for the good of the club, but also concern over reinvesting in the team.

"I see fans understanding the need for balance. I don’t see fans wanting or calling for us to gamble, which is comforting and shows a realistic approach to what we can and can’t do," he said.

"None of that constrains our ability to succeed, or our ambitions, but has to be reflected in our decisions.

"We can deal with all of that and improve and succeed if we take the right risks at the right time, to push on when the opportunity is there, and grasp the chances when they come.

"The shareholders and Holdings board want that success and want to give David [Holdsworth] and Chris [Beech] all the tools they can provide."