Leaders of Carlisle United’s supporters trust were challenged on a range of subjects including their new manifesto and social media activity at a members’ meeting.

CUOSC board members faced questions from fellow fans at the latest meeting, which was held at Brunton Park and also shared via Zoom.

One exchange saw the trust accused of being “downright rude” over an apparent sluggishness in responding to questions on Twitter.

Another saw the fan group respond to accusations of “defensiveness” by saying constructive criticism will always be welcomed - likewise people who want to stand for board positions.

The trust used the opening stages of the meeting to share details of their manifesto, which covered areas including ownership, communication, finance and regulation.

Later, in a question-and-answer session, one member claimed that there were times when questions posed to the trust on Twitter don’t get answered, and that this is tantamount to “basic rudeness”.

Nigel Davidson, a CUOSC board member, replied by saying the trust invites questions to be emailed so they can be collated and then answered.

He also, though, said the particular fan asking the question had levelled “quite a few rude comments” himself on social media.

Davidson added: “All we ask is that we work together and around the table. We feel quite often the criticism we get is quite negative and feels negative on purpose. All we want is constructive criticism.”

Billy Atkinson, CUOSC’s director on United’s holdings board, added: “We get criticism, but it doesn’t stop us speaking to people. We all have differences of opinion; it doesn’t mean we can’t get on.”

Another member later pointed out that it would be better to reply to questions on Twitter, rather than by email, so that more supporters could see the answers.

The same supporter also said there were lots of “aims” in the trust’s manifesto but a lack of measurable “targets”.

Atkinson replied: “If you promise you’re going to do something, and you don’t achieve it, it’s a silly promise.

“If I go in and say, ‘we want’ or ‘you must’, they [the club’s directors] won’t do it. We have to work with the club.”

Atkinson added that the manifesto was in draft form and that “achievable” aims could be included in the final document if members put them forward.

Trust leaders were also asked if they had challenged the club about increasing revenue streams to match the recent season ticket price increase.

Atkinson first cited new sponsorship deals at the club – claiming the agreement with new shirt sponsors Bimson Haulage was “bringing in more money” than that with previous sponsor Thomas Graham.

READ MORE: Carlisle United announce Bimson Haulage as new shirt sponsor for 2022/23 season

He also referred to new commercial positions being advertised at the club, and the appeals made by manager Paul Simpson and chief executive Nigel Clibbens to businesses and fans to get behind the club and maximise the current “feel-good factor”.

Atkinson, meanwhile, responded to a member’s claim that responses were “defensive” when trust board members were challenged on what they bring to the table.

He said: “It probably is defensive. We’ve spent lot of time trying to protect this club and we can get lots of criticisms. We don’t often respond to it.

“If people don’t think we’re doing a decent job, come forward and stand for election.

“We’ve asked for as long as can I remember for people, particularly young people, to stand for election and take us forward in more modern way.

“It will be interesting in July [at the CUOSC AGM] to see how many want to stand.”

Atkinson added that few had come forward for board positions over the years, adding: “Two young people who came forward and went on the board left because they couldn’t deal with the amount of aggravation they got by being on the board.”

CUOSC’s representative on the club’s 1921 operational board, Jim Mitchell, indicated he was unlikely to stand again, meanwhile.

Fellow CUOSC board members discussed the long hours they put in to helping the fan organisation.

Atkinson added: “If we can get people to help, it becomes a lot less onerous.

“We should look forward. There’s a totally different air about this club at the present time. We need people, whatever their thoughts about us or other members of the Carlisle United boards, to join together to make this club an attractive proposition, for would-be investors to want to come and invest in this club.

“Present owners, which includes us [CUOSC], will not stand in the way of a good investor or investors that will come forward and take the club into the 2030s or whatever…”

The trust were also challenged over an offer from a fan who had suggested he could help improve the trust’s payment process, with it being claimed CUOSC had not acknowledged his email after two months.

Trust representatives said they had in fact initially responded and were “mulling over” what had been proposed before making further contact, and insisted they were “not pushing aside” what the person had offered.

Regarding the lack of subsequent contact, Atkinson added: “If we’ve not replied, we don’t have a defence for that.”

It was also said at the meeting that CUOSC’s debt to board member Norman Steel, regarding a loan he made some years ago, would be fully paid up “in two years maximum”.

Steel said the amount had “gone down enormously” and added: “I have raised this on a number of occasions about getting into a discussion about me writing some of it off, if there could be some negotiation on that.”

Atkinson added: “The more members we could get, we could reduce that quicker.”

A member said Steel “should be applauded” for making a personal financial contribution to the trust in such a way.

Davidson, meanwhile, said the recent football event hosted by CUOSC had Brunton Park, had been a “great success” and discussions would be held about making it “bigger and better” next year.

There were further debates at the meeting about the trust’s payment systems, the regularity of members’ meetings, working groups, the possibility of CUOSC having a more visible presence in the club’s fan zone, and the EFL Trophy.

*The News & Star attended the meeting on Zoom with CUOSC's permission.

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