Good player, Chris Lumsdon. Fine midfielder in two promotion-winning teams. It is in retirement, though, that he did something much more precious.

He is, to date, just about the only person to have teased public comment from Edinburgh Woollen Mill or those closely connected to that otherwise quiet group who have long hovered over Carlisle United’s affairs.

It happened in November 2019, a time when Lumsdon was involved in a short-lived takeover approach, and is worth revisiting in this current state of logjam at the top of Brunton Park.

It is all too easy to focus simply on Purepay Retail Limited, EWM’s successors as United lenders, and their seeming reluctance to speed to the table to discuss the debt situation. All the same, it’s a decent place to start.

Provoked into the public domain by Lumsdon’s group, here is what an EWM spokesperson said two-and-a-half years ago: “We’re supporters of the club because we’re passionate about the role it plays in the local community; we need a flourishing club at the heart of Carlisle…”

Okay. Stop right there. A flourishing club at the heart of Carlisle. Great. Now, how has that gone?

Not, alas, to the point where EWM or associated firms have managed to take the club over. Not to the point where things could sail through the EFL’s set of requirements. And not to the point, now, where those owed all the money – £2.4m and rising – appear in any dramatic hurry to talk turkey with United’s owners now.

News and Star: Philip Day's (back right) EWM loaned United a seven-figure sum - and now Purepay have yet to give the Blues assurances they won't call the debt in (photo: Stuart Walker)Philip Day's (back right) EWM loaned United a seven-figure sum - and now Purepay have yet to give the Blues assurances they won't call the debt in (photo: Stuart Walker)

At this precarious point, with the Blues’ immediate future seemingly tethered to the inspirational but far from permanent figure of Paul Simpson, we have…lots of quiet. A public appeal from the supporters’ trust, issued this week, was the latest attempt to stir Carlisle’s main creditors.

It was made with a month left in a season Simpson has somehow salvaged from the flames whilst showing what is possible, in terms of team-fan relations, if only someone could push the necessary buttons higher up.

A flourishing club, one might call it. Yet here we are, waiting, wondering, holding an ever longer piece of string. "We would welcome being joined by other passionate financial supporters who see the world in the same way as we do,” EWM added in that 2019 statement. “We may develop our own view, but it would always be driven by protecting the long-term interests of the club and its central role in the community."

A world view, no less. Now, things clearly change in football and business. The takeover United coveted in 2019 dropped off the table in 2021. All the same, some of those behind that “world view” presumably have connections with those making the Blues wait over the debt now.

So, has the “world view” changed, or is the desire for a “flourishing club” still intact – and, if so, how does the current impasse fit that vision? Is the world view now distilled into a basic desire for repayment, or is there still a broader strategy, somewhere in the silence?

News and Star: Paul Simpson says "rumblings of discontent" at United must be resolved (photo: Richard Parkes)Paul Simpson says "rumblings of discontent" at United must be resolved (photo: Richard Parkes)

These questions and more can go to Purepay. Yet they’re far from the only party who need to own this situation. United’s owners do, too.

What is playing out here, the “rumblings of discontent” Simpson referred to this week, is nothing less than the natural consequence of the chequered recent past at Brunton Park; a domino rally that must have appeared predictable at least to some degree.

Put basically, if you go cap in hand to a strong-willed businessman at your weakest, don’t be surprised if he/his connections go on to act like strong-willed business people when push very much comes to shove.

Don’t anticipate benevolence and community-minded press-release talk when it gets down to brass tacks, and there is money owed, personal guarantees in place, security nailed down and a preferred big picture for all parties no longer possible.

Don’t seek the emergency help of a tremendously successful man who said of your club (in 2017) “if I didn’t sponsor it, I don’t think it would exist” without expecting that powerful perception not to prominently reappear somehow, down the line.

And don’t – no apologies for harking back here – attempt other long, ludicrous carry-ons such as we’ve seen at United without the wages of all that being taken at some stage.

Perhaps those who picked up their weapons and fought for the regime any time some of us questioned the Yahya Kirdi farrago will reflect on their knee-jerk defensiveness now this game of consequences is at last unfolding.

Maybe they’ll see that that 650-day farce wasn’t all that credible after all, sending as it did United’s future into thick, long grass, putting back the days of reckoning and resolution a little further, delaying the hard and dirty decisions that might have held off and even prevented the predicament now at the door.

So yes – call for Purepay to step up. But also recognise the who, what, when and how of all this, and the way it was seeded way before United locked themselves into a debt position which, now, feels particularly awkward, given the little shaft of sunshine Simpson has let into the building.

“Results have managed to stifle [those rumblings of discontent] a little bit, but it doesn’t mean they go away,” said the manager himself on Thursday. The fact many fear what happens if Simmo leaves next month also sums up the continued state of suspension at Carlisle United. Much has changed, but much remains.

So it’s on all parties, not just one, to step up and sort this, or at the very least shoulder the consequences of weakness exposed (unless, needless to say, Dean Henderson goes for a few bob in the summer and all parties come up smiling). What looks like it flourishes now can wilt again. If all the recent fun has been for nothing, it will be an historic failure – but one that was also signposted a fair way back.

READ MORE: Carlisle United directors confirm they want Paul Simpson to stay - as wait over debt talks goes on