We are not too far from the 30th anniversary of the time when the idea of publicly putting Carlisle United for sale was looked upon slightly differently by those running the Blues.

These days, stating the position in the media or by other prominent means is deemed an ineffective way of advertising United – “a PR stunt to feed the media and fans rather than a serious attempt to attract the right sort of buyers,” according to supporters’ trust CUOSC.

Back in 1992, there was no such thing as a United supporters’ trust and nor was there the same reticence from the club’s top table when it came to announcing the Blues’ availability.

That March, a stage the Blues were floundering in the Fourth Division and thinking of employing part-time players, directors called a press conference at short notice. Carlisle’s uncertain financial position was set out, likewise the need to attract a new owner.

“If anyone comes forward we will be willing to stand aside or join together with them,” said chairman Andrew Jenkins. “We are not going bankrupt but we cannot allow the present financial position to go on any further.”

News and Star: The News & Star's report in 1992 as United were publicly put up for saleThe News & Star's report in 1992 as United were publicly put up for sale

This followed the issuing of a formal statement which made things even clearer. “The board…wish to make it public that they are prepared to consider any offer for the club which would secure the future of league football in Carlisle.”

Now, the chain of events which led from that day to the summer moment when Michael Knighton was handed the keys to Brunton Park may not have been straight-line. It is known that the great Harry Gregg, the former Manchester United hero and Carlisle manager, also played a part in introducing the pinstriped showman to the Blues.

And let us not waste more time debating the pros and cons of Knighton’s reign: something else whose beginning and demise, reach anniversaries in 2022.

We can, though, analyse the difference in approach, and also look at what United have done more recently to get to this stage, in December 2021, still without the new financial dawn that has been desired for many years now.

“Football clubs are not sold the way houses are,” said CUOSC, and that may well be true. At the same time…how would we know, just lately, at Carlisle United?

It is true that the last two times the Blues have changed hands, in 2004 and 2008, it was not as a result of the club appearing for sale in the media. Since then, though, United have gone down the non-PR-stunt road repeatedly under the current ownership, and where has it got them?

In 2014/5, to negotiations with Andrew Lapping – “a friend of the club,” as described by John Nixon – which ended in a right old outbreak of friendly fire. United were then privately introduced by other people known to the club (the McCreerys) to one Yahya Kirdi: a very businesslike saga which took 650 days to produce…no deal.

News and Star: Negotiations with Edinburgh Woollen Mill and other parties involving Philip Day (back right) did not lead to a takeover at Carlisle United (photo: Stuart Walker)Negotiations with Edinburgh Woollen Mill and other parties involving Philip Day (back right) did not lead to a takeover at Carlisle United (photo: Stuart Walker)

Now the most recent behind-closed-doors chinwagging with a main sponsor (Edinburgh Woollen Mill) has yielded nothing.

So while there may be evidence for CUOSC’s confident assertion that public relations activity is not the way, one can also forgive supporters asking: why not try it anyway?

For one thing, it would give the impression of these owners as proactive, motivated sellers – something which is insisted to be the case, supported by behind-the-scenes evidence (such as 2019’s willingness to sell a majority stake to Philip Day’s Eden Valley Sport Limited), yet which is not always an idea swallowed by the public.

‘Carlisle United are for sale’ would be a statement of the obvious, many in the hierarchy would insist. Yet what would be the harm in…stating the obvious? It might do the owners no harm in terms of their own standing.

It might not tell this community and others anything dramatically new. But it would adopt a new tone.

Not all “PR stunts” should be regarded with contempt, either. Peterborough United looked a right old Horlicks of a club on the Big Ron Manager series shown by Sky in 2006. Yet it exposed Posh to more eyes than normal, and it was not long before Darragh MacAnthony, the Irish businessman, bought the club which currently operates in the Championship.

Rob McElhenny’s interest in football, and duly Wrexham, was reportedly piqued by documentaries such as Sunderland Til I Die, the Netflix series with its appealing blend of the authentic and cringeworthy.

This is by no means saying it’s a guaranteed road to riches. Tyre-kickers no doubt abound when headlines are made. One also has to wonder how far Carlisle can get with any approach – public, private, somewhere in the middle – until the weighty matter of their £2.4m debt to Purepay Retail Limited is dealt with.

All the same: if you’re a club in a sort of limbo, facing up to a latest failed takeover saga of several and seeking "credible new investors" once more…is there really nothing to be said for speaking up about it just a little louder?