Sorting Carlisle United in this time of trouble would be so much...well, not easier, but certainly simpler to envisage if only the power structure of the club was straightforward and smooth.

Instead – it’s not quite like that. This United is a oddly-shaped thing, the result of different pulls, pushes and influences, and if you were building a football club from scratch it would be a creative designer indeed who would put it together exactly like this.

How has it become such a contraption? The unfolding of events, the taking and non-taking of decisions, the strength of certain individuals, other parties growing and fading over time, the effect of weakness, the shifting in seats, theoretical but not yet definitive transition...

The result – something of a mess, or at least something that does not look in any way permanent or assured.

United’s ownership is set down simply in black and white; the stakes held by Andrew Jenkins, Steven Pattison, John Nixon and the Carlisle United Official Supporters’ Club. Directorships on the two boards at Brunton Park are also matters of clear record.

Yet even in those domains, things become curious.

Only one man at the club is important enough to sit on both its boards, yet John Nixon professes to have marginal involvement in day-to-day matters. Nixon, one of the owners, is ‘director of external affairs’ for CUFC Holdings and also for Carlisle United Association Football Club (1921) Limited.

Clearly the external affairs of the operational side of the business are not enough. The external affairs of the strategic, overseeing body must also be safeguarded.

Carlisle are at the wrong end of the Football League and in obvious peril, yet supporters can get at least some sleep at night through knowing their external affairs are in thorough order.

Elsewhere, United owe a seven-figure amount of money to a firm called Purepay Retail Limited, a legacy of their loans from Edinburgh Woollen Mill, a company overseen by the wealthy businessman Philip Day.

The latter remains in some form of dialogue with the ownership over long-term change, but as yet holds no shares. Day’s influence has led, in recent years, to three of his associates taking up roles at Brunton Park: David Holdsworth, Kevin Dobinson and John Jackson.

The latter helps direct CUFC Holdings while Holdsworth has, since 2018, been director of football. In that time he has handled contract matters and the sales of players which have earned the club money. These tasks do not in the same way preoccupy the chief executive or the finance director, both of which United have.

The DoF also has a voice among several when it comes to managerial recruitment, but the directing of the football does not, it has been made clear, extend to choosing the players United sign. This is not, we can therefore conclude, the interconnected type of DoF system seen elsewhere, involving signings being sourced to fit into an established ethos and a head coach given them to work with. It is the manager who, to all intents and purposes, still directs the football.

United’s staff list on their website confirms the status of a commercial manager and a commercial assistant. It does not name Dobinson, but he is closely involved with their commercial operations (as an "adviser", assuming that is what is referred to on page 11 of this document). To whom is he answerable? On whose word does he act? To what end do Carlisle require a minister without portfolio in this and/or other departments?

If you have reached this point and started wondering how we got here, and can’t help asking whether United in a perfect world should be a more obvious and streamlined creation, then you’d be forgiven.

Again, it all comes down to who holds the power, how they got it, who had to give some of it up (and why), and the fact United are still in suspended animation, split between different influences, as the jaws of the National League loom and “succession” talks creep on.

Jenkins last weekend wrote in his programme notes that those takeover discussions are progressing in a “businesslike” fashion, and would certainly not be acted upon through the media; an echo of a previous line about declining to provide a “running commentary” via interviews.

They may have to allow us, though, a furrowing of the brow when painting any picture of solid talks, focused paths and all hands on the same wheel.

At this point, via takeover sagas, budget changes, new influences, debt, remote power and a team in trouble, United look like they’re involved in their own Squid Game, except one where nobody perishes.

It all, of course, snakes back up to the top-level situation which, we have been told by CUOSC (whose own limited clout is another matter), would not be accelerated despite the unfolding difficulties on the pitch.

Sort “succession”, and all will presumably shake down into some sort of order. By then, though, United could be limping towards the fifth tier and the issue of what is needed at Brunton Park might require a more challenging set of solutions still.

These are, it is clear enough, hazardous days and we could really do with speeding to the stage where the questions are less apparent. Right now, if you look at those big three triangles on Warwick Road and ask who’s running the show in the building attached, the answer very much depends on where you are looking.