United’s chief executive Nigel Clibbens confirmed this week that the new relationship with long-standing partners Edinburgh Woollen Mill is one that both parties are keen to develop as the club looks to welcome the distinctive company logo on the front of the first team playing shirt for the first time.
“We’re continuing to progress our relationship with EWM, as we have been since around March time this year,” he said. “We started to deepen the relationship with them at that time and that has helped us in a number of ways. The good thing is that it will continue to help us as we go forward.
“That relationship with them is our prime focus at the moment. The arrangement we have is that there’s a facility whereby the club can draw cash down as and when it needs it. That takes the burden off Andrew Jenkins, which has been a long-term issue for the club.
“At the same time Andrew continues to support the club when he needs to. It’s fair to say we’ve got the best of both worlds and it’s also fair to say that it’s early days for where the relationship with the EWM will ultimately lead. We’re hoping to show that the club is on the right track, on and off the field, and hopefully that will keep our options wide open.”
“The EWM logo featuring on the front of our shirt takes us to a different level with what we’ve been able to do with them commercially,” he continued. “The obvious benefit from that is the money from that deal flows into the club. They are also still involved in things like stand sponsorship and ground boards, and those are the immediate steps we’ve taken within the relationship that people can see.
“As a club we’re trying to make this football club as good as it can be so that we can attract a high level of interest and investment. As an organisation and as people EWM meet the criteria which were set out, certainly when I joined the club, of what we're looking for going forward.
“They’re good people to be involved with and we’re working with them to try and make the relationship stronger. It will be small steps forward to see how we go, but there are good signs so far.”
Speaking about how the loan facility is structured, he said: “It’s a revolving facility so it can go up and it can go down. We use it as we need it.
“I think it’s clear to us that EWM are very supportive of the club and I think the availability of the loan facility shows that as the case. They’re moving things along at a pace they’re comfortable with and I think they’re really looking forward to seeing how we do this season.
They’re a successful business and they want to be associated with other businesses which are successful ...
“They’re a successful business and they want to be associated with other businesses which are successful. We’ve talked to them about our plans for the season and they’ve bought into that fully. They’re getting an understanding of the club and the football world and we’ll see where that takes us.
“What we have to be clear about is that they aren’t owners of the club, they don’t have a shareholding and they don’t make the decisions, but anything can happen with any of that in the future. We just don’t know at this stage.
“They obviously have an awareness of what we’re doing and we share things with them, as we would with anyone who has an involvement with us in the way that they have. It’s a situation which we are very excited about and, as I say, it’s a case of waiting to see how it develops from here.”
And he also confirmed that a Forum is in the pipeline with a date to be confirmed at the earliest opportunity.
“We’ve talked about the need for a Forum and we’ve already looked at the possibility of a number of dates,” he said. “We’ll be speaking to BBC Radio Cumbria to make sure we can get as wide an audience for it as possible, but we need to make sure we get the right timing for it.
“Our immediate focus has been on signings and we felt that we wanted to be further along the line with that so the fans had a better understanding of where we’re trying to go in the coming season. We will definitely be having one and the date will be finalised in the very near future.”