Tom Piatak says Carlisle United plan to build a League One squad next season – whichever division the Blues are in.

The club’s American owner stressed that everyone in the club remains firmly focused on staying in the third tier this season.

But in the event of relegation – United are 11 points adrift of safety with 16 games to go – Piatak says the approach to summer recruitment will be the same.

Asked if Carlisle were beginning to draw up either-or plans for the close-season, Piatak told the News & Star: “I know that’s how they’ve probably done in past. It’s not how we’re going to do it.

“We’re planning for League One. If for any reason we don’t maintain [our current League One status], we’re planning for League One next year and we’re planning to have a squad that can get us back to League One.

“We’re not saying ‘either or’, we’re planning to basically build a League One squad because we’d want to come back and be strong.”

Piatak said, of Carlisle’s current struggles in the division, “the table doesn’t lie” and United’s performances and results aren’t “where we want to be”.

He felt that not completing the takeover in time for last summer’s transfer window meant United were up against it in terms of recruiting, after their late promotion through the play-offs.

“But those are excuses and I don’t like excuses,” he said.

News and Star: Tom Piatak believes Paul Simpson is the right man for the project at UnitedTom Piatak believes Paul Simpson is the right man for the project at United (Image: Ben Holmes)

“We have been competitive in most matches. Sometimes one or two things go your way, you get momentum and can build on it. We haven’t had those opportunities yet.

“I definitely believe the players we have added in the January transfer window can help us in the short-term and long-term. I believe we made really good decisions in a very difficult window.

“We have a third of the season left. We can survive League One – it is realistic and achievable, even if it is getting more difficult and that’s still our goal.”

Piatak has publicly stressed his faith in manager Paul Simpson despite the recent run of defeats but said he has not felt the need privately to reassure Simpson of his position. He believes the Blues boss has the club's best interests firmly at heart.

“We’ve told him early on this is a long-term process and he is part of the plan,” added the owner.

“I think he is an outstanding manager. He’s doing everything he can and I do believe he is the right manager at the right time for what we’re trying to do.”

Piatak added that this was not the right time for "accountability" in general given the difficulties United faced last summer, but said that would come after the improved budget had been applied.

He added that there is a “minimum” target of what should be expected over the remaining 16 games, but said that is an “internal” matter within the club.

“But everybody in this organisation is focusing on surviving,” he added. “We can do this.”

* This is an extract from an exclusive News & Star interview with Tom Piatak – to listen to part one in full, click HERE.

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