Carlisle United's chief executive has claimed fan protests would make it harder to sign players and for the team to get out of trouble.

Nigel Clibbens says he "understands and feels" the feelings of fans towards the Blues' current plight.

An online fans' group has been set up aimed at discussing potential protests against the Brunton Park regime.

Clibbens, though, insists any such direct action would be counter-productive.

Replying to a fan's invitation to respond to supporter sentiment on Facebook, Clibbens issued a lengthy reply.

As part of his response, he said: "I see the growing calls for fan action against the board, demos, boycotts etc, and I just would say this [and it won’t be popular - but that’s the CEO job]!

"I understand and feel the helplessness of some fans and the desire to force change because promise of change have not become reality.

"[I] honestly believe damage from fighting that battle now could be irreparable.

"That fight now definitely won’t help us rise up the league, and it’s hard to see how it would do anything but make it more difficult in getting players in or winning.

"The only thing that matters from until the end of this season is doing all we all can to get up table. Full stop. Anything that risks that will do the club no good.

"That is not about avoiding the issue or looking after personal positions either. I accept this is a real tough ask for many fans just now - I again get why - but I always get the job of giving the tough message."

Clibbens' response was made on the Be Just And Fear Not Facebook group.

A further Facebook group named Carlisle Protests has also now been set up.

It followed Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Harrogate Town which left Carlisle second bottom of League Two and in serious danger of relegation to non-league.

Clibbens said he wanted to reply because "it’s important supporters know I am listening", and he stressed fans' feelings "get through to the heart of the club into [the] boardroom."

He did not offer any update on the ownership "succession" issue at Brunton Park.

But he said he was meeting fan groups next week and would also be issuing a "big update".

"I understand the fans' frustrations, worries and fears," Clibbens wrote.

"I read them on here, listen to fans when they speak to me at games and when fans shout and rage at me - like [Tuesday] night. They are understandable in the circumstances. I understand what you are saying and how you feel.

"I see our problems too, they are real and clear to me, but I am definitely not accepting them. Now way. There is no hiding from them. We must face up and deal with them. I won’t hide from you all either."

Clibbens said the board "understand what fans think and what fans need and want from them" and "they do care" because "they are lifelong fans too.

"They know their responsibility and everyone is looking to them and relying on them too. They know what is at stake.

"The club is full of good people and staff who don’t want us to be in this position either or want fans to feel this way about us or the club. They are fighting hard every day for the club too.

"I am doing everything in my power to ensure everyone within the club, gives absolutely everything to make things better and to deal with “the current state we are in”. Whether that’s financially, communication and talking to fans or the ownership or anything else. That’s from shareholders down.

"It starts with a total commitment to supporting Keith Millen with all he needs to turn things around on the pitch. That’s what counts most now."

Clibbens said United could face the current situation "with no day-to-day financial worries overshadowing us and hold[ing] us back...our finances are better than planned this year and the recent Premier League support is extra too."

The director added that United's home crowds are "the best since 2016/17".

"I have no doubt we are blessed by the support we have. It’s humbling. I never ever take it for granted and won’t while ever I’m here," he added.

"I am realistic there will likely be a time for the other stuff but it’s not now. The time is now to set aside all of that and put the club on the field first. I don’t doubt you all understand why I say it - even if you might disagree.

"The board of the club know they need stand up for the good of the club too. The time is now - to be counted.

"Answering everyone on social media is not possible but my door is always open. I’m always outside on the west side [of Brunton Park] pre match and you can email the club or ring me.

"Even I you don’t like me or what I say, I promise I always have and will continue to do all I can for CUFC. The club comes first."

The News & Star has also invited comment from United's owners and director of football David Holdsworth on the current crisis and the club's plans to improve the situation.