One hundred and ninety people. Not even the Papa John’s Trophy would recognise that as a decent turnout. Yet the fact that sum was enough to change the face of Carlisle United’s supporters’ trust tells you something in itself.

Elections, annual general meetings…they are rarely the sexiest subjects for a fanbase. Even the club’s own AGM in past years has just about attracted enough attenders to fill a large phonebox.

So they are not, all in all, the best barometer of fan engagement. Yet, when it comes to organising the important stuff at the head of certain representative bodies, they’re still the best we've got.

And this, at CUOSC, was the extent of it. Only 32 per cent of those eligible to vote in its elections did. From 585 members - those who pay to have a say, a motivated audience you might expect - 190 submitted valid ballots.

That this was amply sufficient to launch five new people onto the board, with breathing space ahead of the three other candidates (including two existing CUOSC figures), hardly offers much argument against the one put forward by the source of the five, Unita Fortior.

That fledgling group, upon launching in January, said that the trust was not big enough to carry true clout. They insisted that it needed to swell in numbers to achieve proper credibility.

News and Star: Unita Fortior formed in January - and now has five trust board membersUnita Fortior formed in January - and now has five trust board members

The fact they have found it so easy, relatively speaking, to attain board positions makes that point clearer than ever.

There has, since Sunday’s results, been talk of unity and working together from leading CUOSC figures, which is what you’d hope and expect to hear in such circumstances.

It is not difficult, all the same, to envisage certain noses having to be eased back into joint after the Unita Fortior influx. It is easy to imagine this because UF were described as a “trojan horse” by some at the top of CUOSC in the very recent past.

One imagines those sentiments have not simply been swept away at the ballot box. How the new dynamic on the board plays out now will be fascinating.

And yes, there is of course a need for harmony, for all parties to work constructively, and also for more to join the operation. Yet there also needs to be an acceptance that, for Unita Fortior to have succeeded in the space of seven months, something was fundamentally not right in the first place.

Board positions which once seemed a given were exposed as fragile the moment a pro-active new movement, starting with just 12 people, began. It did not require years of build-up, lots of amassing of support, a truly long game.

It just needed to show enough gumption and stamina to convince enough people that, yes, this is maybe worth a go, that these people look like they might refresh the thing, or at least try; give it new personality, new ideas, a new push.

Now, steadily, we will discover what those ideas look like, how workable they are, how they can pass through the existing trust operations; whether friction will remain in the system, or whether the custodian body of United’s supporter shareholding will indeed be subject to “a new chance”, as CUOSC’s Billy Atkinson suggested this week.

News and Star: Some other trusts, like Exeter City's, have many more members (photo: PA)Some other trusts, like Exeter City's, have many more members (photo: PA)

It is not a slight on those who have dedicated themselves to the trust to say something like this really needed to happen. Shouldering the often unglamorous work involved is plainly not for everyone.

One cannot question the commitment of all concerned. Yet it is also the mark of any healthy organisation to recognise when change is needed; to accept that some things have failed, or at least not flourished, and that it’s probably time to go with what’s new.

To move brightly forward, certain other things will need to be shaken out. For example, the debate about whether or to what extent CUOSC should be a fundraising body surely needs to come to a head soon, for example.

United’s supporters’ trust has had its identity issues over the years, ever since its initial raison d’etre – to lobby for the ousting of Michael Knighton – passed into history. It must now drive (or be driven) into a place where more people know what it stands for, and could tell you that in a few short sentences if, as a fan, you were put on the spot and asked.

It must, by stages, get to a point where people see it as a proactively good thing, bright and beneficial to rank and file supporters – and by extension the club – rather than something that attracts scepticism, has the same deliberations dominating every members’ meeting from now until the end of time, and is at the mercy of any would-be overhaul that can gather up a few numbers.

Given the tone of the independent report on the latest elections, conducted by the Exeter City Trust’s Neil le Milliere, it is not easy to envisage a smooth road from here. The ballot, he said, was “difficult” to oversee, pointing to the volume of “complaints” about “candidates’ behaviour”, as well as other procedural issues that need sharpening up.

On the broad basis that whipping up an omelette is impossible without the cracking of a few eggs, there is no harm in a bit of heave-ho if it gets the desired effect. Resistance, discord…these things can be a sign that the game is, at last, being played out on the right pitch.

In the longer run, a slicker, more settled picture will need to emerge. Perhaps this week’s elections were the first blows in the battle to get there.