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INTERVIEW: I'm very encouraged by what I've seen

22 July 2016

Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens on work to be done at Brunton Park

Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens spoke to us about life at Brunton Park now that he has spent just over a month in his new, challenging role.

“It's been clear since the first day I walked through the door that there's a lot of good work going on here,” he said. “I think as a Club we sometimes need to shout about it a bit more, which I've already talked to the staff about. 

“I'm very encouraged by what I’ve seen. Events like the Rod Stewart concert show what we can do, so maybe we can host more things like that. It puts much needed cash into the till which we can use to do better things for the club, as well as it being good for the city.” 

“From what I’ve seen there are a lot of things for us to do, but it certainly isn’t in a bad place,” he continued. “I’m very much of a mind that we won’t change things just because I’m new here, and this part of the calendar year is always really busy anyway. 

“Although the footballers go away for six or seven weeks it's a time where the rest of us have to prepare for the season. It's a very busy period and, added to that, we're still dealing with the final stages of the flood reparation. As I say, there's a lot to do but we're simply getting on with it and doing it.”

“I don't think me coming in suggests that there is a big job to be done,” he explained. “It just means the Club has to operate differently. I think it brings a lot of potential opportunities and it means our decision making process will become quicker, because there's someone to make the final decision rather than ruling by committee. 

“It will also allow us to have more joined up thinking because there is now somebody there to take more of an overall view and look at how things affect all parts of the club. As far as I'm concerned it's a really important role inside all football clubs. The best Clubs have a leader in this position who joins everything together and brings a bit of focus and clarity to things.”

On specific areas to be looked at in the short-term, he said: “I think we have to improve our communications internally because that should help us to make fewer mistakes and see us get things right first time on a more regular basis. 

“From there we can start to put plans in place and be more organised about how we go about things. As I say, that isn’t to say that everything is broken. It’s just about raising the standards and the bar even higher. I’ve been on record as saying that I looked at the Club before I came here and I always knew it was good place and, in terms of the basics, it was very well run. 

“It is well respected within the EFL so the way I see the job I have to do is simply about making things better. The fact I’m here in the first place signals a change in the way the Club wants to approach things going forward. 

“There’s been recognition from the main shareholders that their communication with the fans could be improved and that we need to do things differently in that area. Another thing I’ve said is that I’m keen to reach out to the fans because we can’t just demand support. We have to deserve it. That means doing things properly and explaining why we’re doing them the way we are. We need to have good values and principles because that’s what I’m all about.”

Speaking about the need to improve external communications, particularly with the fan base, he said: “We intend to speak to a lot of people in as many ways as we can through the press, at Fans’ Forums and by meeting regularly with supporters groups and their representatives.

“It’s just a case of doing the things we should be doing as a matter of course. It’s not rocket science. If you speak to people and listen to what they say it helps you to do what is right for the Club.

“I think we all acknowledge that every Club is different and they all face their own issues. In this particular case we have to focus on being better on the pitch because that’s the key to a lot of things. 
“Our top priority has to be success on the field, but hand-in-hand with that we have to look at every other aspect of the business to see where we can improve. If people see clarity in what the plan is for Carlisle United Football Club they will buy into it and begin to feel part of it.”

“There is a lot to do but it’s very exciting,” he concluded. “In the short-term, as I’ve said, I think it will be subtle changes people will notice. Most of it will be based around engagement with the community, fans and businesses, and in the long term I think we need to be more organised in the way we plan and make longer term decisions. 

“That way we can come up with some really strong values about what the Club stands for. It can be seen as management speak, but it’s really important for us to have an identity. The fans need to know what Carlisle United stands for and, put quite simply, we really do need to get back to those kinds of basics so that we can all move forward together.”

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