The most encouraging aspect of Unita Fortior’s launch as a new supporter movement was not so much the comments we can all agree with: that things need to improve, that there has been stagnation, that fresh minds and positive change is very much required.

It was the cold, hard, inescapable logic that any would-be major fan group must adopt. Without numbers, you may as well stay at home.

The crowd-pleasing stance would have dodged this in a hail of showboating claims. It would have sold Unita Fortior as an entirely separate concern and set about trying to promote the concept of going it alone.

Such a move would have attracted popular comment, no doubt, and perhaps an amount of support. In practice, though, it would have required not just a long game but one whose prospects of failure would already be on the table.

Instead, even those defensive of current status quos cannot in good conscience object to the idea actually proposed: to try and flood the existing supporters’ trust, CUOSC, with new members. To hike up those figures and, as night follows day, see the Blues’ fanbase better represented by the body which has such a significant shareholding at Carlisle United.

News and Star: The new fans' group announced their aims on ThursdayThe new fans' group announced their aims on Thursday

There is realism in that angle, recognition that a tool for change is already available. Why not try to revamp that instead of destroying it? Why not try to build there, instead of waging an immediate, potentially damaging and distracting civil war with an army that would, at the outset, be of unclear strength?

CUOSC, in their initial response, struck the only tone available: how could we do anything but welcome such an move? The interesting parts will come if and when a glut of new faces challenge for board positions and attempt to change the look and face of the trust.

It will require dedication, openness and the genuine resolve to match actions with words on both sides. At the very least, though, it has a chance.

United, right now, do not need a splinter group obsessed only with going off and doing its own thing and assuming it is the right way. What it does need is an emphatic voice, louder than all those at present. Something which can offer proactive embrace in the good times, be a little feared in the bad, and have the clout of vast support and an enviable shareholding to boot.

Whichever angle you come from in such a scenario, it returns to those numbers – as CUOSC themselves recognised upon launching. One of the biggest challenges Unita Fortior will have to negotiate when it comes to drumming up transformative support is the fact that, when the trust themselves began back in 2001, there was a greater and clearer cause in the wider mind’s eye than now.

News and Star: United's supporters' trust launched to a big audience in 2001 (photo: Phil Rigby)United's supporters' trust launched to a big audience in 2001 (photo: Phil Rigby)

That cause was the journey into notoriety which Carlisle were on under Michael Knighton. United, until that point, did not have a trust, hence the motivation was strong as large numbers packed the Sands Centre to hear about possible new beginnings.

Proactivity was certainly visible in the adopting not just of serious intent but powerful voices. Individuals such as Dick Young, and a cluster of playing legends, commanded instant respect. Credibility, after a fashion, was right there in the room.

The ousting of Knighton required, above all, John Courtenay's persistence and money, but nobody, in that early period, could argue CCUIST (as the trust were then known) were a marginal operation easily ignored or swatted back.

The debate is different now, and the trust’s journey from campaigners to in-house representatives at United has attracted ample comment and criticism. Again: opinions can vary, but the bald truth is that membership of 400 – and, as Unita Fortior noted, significantly fewer bringing themselves to vote in AGMs – is not the sort of figure that anyone in power is going to greatly heed.

Supporters’ trusts of other clubs, with four-figure followings, are better examples of both getting things done and stating what’s what. The fact the 12 folk behind Unita Fortior gathered in the first place suggests that, no matter what CUOSC do, and no matter how diligent United’s own “fan engagement” practices are, there remains an apparent void.

Making it work does not require the same set of objectives as a newly-launched trust. Unita Fortior are not seeking a shareholding of their own, nor to drive an owner out of town.

All the same: to gain traction, it will need its voice to be good, clear, respected and consistent. A proactive launch message, sent in embargoed form to the media and accompanied with coherent social media announcements, was a solid start.

Some of the people involved were at the forefront of impressive fundraising initiatives last season during the Covid lockout. Some are known as prominent voices online: a particular playing field which has not, in all honesty, been maximised by CUOSC. There is a sense of something, in United’s support, still crying out to be tapped.

News and Star: Supporters' trust CUOSC said they welcomed any initiative that would boost their membershipSupporters' trust CUOSC said they welcomed any initiative that would boost their membership

In which case, the only rational message at this fledgling point is to say: good luck. Carlisle United and fan representation is not a voyage that can go further without folk standing up, bonding and putting themselves out there in the name of something new; risking failure, as any initiative does, but at least putting into play the possibility of success, which in this case would certainly improve the climate around the Blues.

Nobody can know how this will unfold in the long run, but it’s clear how it wouldn’t work, and thankfully Unita Fortior have not been tempted down that road. The only way a fresh beginning stands a chance in Carlisle’s peculiar circumstances is from within: person by person, membership by membership, unos, duo, tres.