Carlisle United Football Club are delighted to confirm that head coach Chris Beech has extended his stay with the Blues until the summer of 2022.
Beech, 46, joined the Blues in November 2019 with the club just five points above the League Two relegation zone.
His impact was immediate, with an FA Cup run and a tense double-header against former-Premier League side Cardiff City complemented by an improvement in league results which saw the club climb to a comfortable mid-table position – some 20 points clear of bottom two spots – prior to the coronavirus lockdown in March.
January’s transfer window saw a whopping 16 transactions completed, with more work to be done in the summer as 19 players exited the building.
An exciting and eye-catching brand of football has been adopted, with the club currently sat in third place and with a real feel-good factor as the fans respond to the call from the manager for a more ‘united’ approach in everything we do.
Chairman Andrew Jenkins said: “I am delighted that we have this extension sorted and I know the board of directors at the club feel the same.
“We have all seen how driven and dedicated Chris is and he is quietly determined to make his team and this club successful.
“The way he and David work together on recruitment has been fantastic. Chris is always very clear on which players he has identified and who he thinks will improve things, and David does what he can to make it happen.
“We’ve seen how the manager has built up a strong team spirit in what have been testing conditions, with the pandemic causing all kinds of unforeseen problems, but his focus and energy have made sure that it hasn’t impacted on the direction he wants us to go.
“I get on with him really well, his work ethic is infectious, and I’m very pleased that he will be staying with us.
“He has helped us to build up a real sense of excitement and we feel this is the right time to acknowledge the commitment he has shown to our club with this contract extension.
“I am sure the news will make it an even happier Christmas for Carlisle fans everywhere.”
Director of football David Holdsworth said: “Chris has worked exceptionally hard since coming into the club just over a year ago and we are absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to extend his time with us for this further period.
“Being honest, we took a chance on a new direction, but it wasn’t really a chance because we knew we were getting a strong, knowledgeable and experienced coach to take over what is the most important role at the football club.
“Chris was confident in his own ability to work within the guidelines and he has delivered on that with his method of coaching, his expression of his morals and principles, and with the way he has embraced our new approach.
“It has been a pleasure for me to work on the identification and recruiting of players who fit the ethos Chris is building within his dressing room.
“He should be very pleased with how he and his staff, who are behind him in every step, have implemented new ideas and in how they have taken this club forward so purposefully in a relatively short space of time.
“Gavin Skelton has been part of that, so it is doubly pleasing that we will be seeing the relationship they are forging continue to grow as they move forward together.
“Nothing is guaranteed in this business, we know that, but when you have a head coach who works this hard, and is so deeply invested in bringing success, it is an important first step.
“There is genuine excitement out there. Importantly our fans can see that something good is happening, and they accept that there may be one or two bumps in the road along the way as they give the manager and his team their unbelievable support.
“I can only thank Chris and his staff, and his players, for the way they have brought Carlisle United closer to its community, and for the way they have developed and nurtured these important bonds with the people who matter most to the club.
“We are delighted that we have both Chris and Gavin sorted in time for Christmas Day, and we know it will be a very welcome addition to the festive cheer as we all deal in the best way we can with the current pandemic situation.
“Merry Christmas to all of you, and a very happy and hopefully much better 2021.”
Manager Chris Beech said: “I’ve always said I’m very honoured to be head coach of this football club. It’s gone really well since the day I walked in and I’m very proud of that fact.
“I’m pleased that the club has seen the work that’s been done and that they’re looking to support it, and I’m very thankful of everybody that they’ve committed to that.
“Like I’ve said before, thank you to the chairman and Carlisle United for giving me the opportunity to be their number one, or however you want to describe the role.
“Even more important than that is that it’s about everybody - the staff, the admin staff, the supporters and all those who help in any way.
“I have to say that it’s a privilege for me to work with this group of players and to stand in front of them every day and get to speak to them.
“All I want is to challenge them, encourage them and to get them doing things on the football pitch in the way they have been this season.
“I want them to represent the community of Carlisle with the hardworking traits and honesty the fans expect.
“If they stick to those values, which they have done along with adding some really good football and good goals to it, then we won’t go far wrong, particularly if it carries on.”
Beech started his playing career with his hometown club Blackpool where he made over 100 senior appearances.
He then spent two years with Hartlepool before moving to join Huddersfield Town, where he played under Steve Bruce as the Terriers pushed for promotion from the Championship.
His long association with Rochdale started in 2002 where he enjoyed time as a player, youth team manager, assistant manager and caretaker manager before parting company with the club in March this year.
We are also delighted to confirm, as you can see from David’s comments, that assistant head coach Gav Skelton has also agreed to stay with the club in his current role until the summer of 2022.
The former-Workington and Queen of the South manager continues in the role he first took up under Steven Pressley in the summer of 2019.
Skelton, 39, joined the club’s centre of excellence as an eight-year-old and played both sides of the border with over 200 appearances for Gretna in a seven-year stay one of the highlights of his career.
He has a wealth of playing, coaching and managing experience, and worked as United’s professional development phase coach prior to joining the first team staff just over two years ago.