United co-owner John Nixon spoke to the official site this morning on a wide range of subjects, following what had been an unbelievable week of breaking news which, ultimately, will have a direct impact on the club and on the wider game.
And starting on matters close to home, we asked what the potential ramifications could be for the Blues following the news that EWM Group - backers of the club with a commercial loan agreement since 2017 - have sought to appoint administrators, putting up to 24,000 jobs and some well-known High Street brand names under the spotlight.
“I couldn’t believe it [when the announcement came] really,” he said. “Look, I’m exactly where I was two weeks ago with EWM.
“They’ve got a company called FRP who are looking at the business, and I suppose it’s inevitable. They’re a high street unit with 1,100 shops and over 20,000 employees, and that high street has changed beyond all recognition.
“To give you an example, I’ve only been into the town centre in Carlisle four times since February, and I can see from the shops being boarded up, or those not open, things have changed.
“So it was inevitable, with a retail business like that, that they were going to say ‘what are we going to do’ and with a second wave of coronavirus taking place, it’s made it more difficult.
“They will let us know if anything affects Carlisle United. I’ve had contact with them on Friday and again yesterday [Monday], so that’s twice over the last few working days, and the message from them has been reinforced.
“If there’s anything that’s going to affect Carlisle United we will know about it and then we’ll be able to do something about it, but that’s if it is going to have any kind of real impact on us. It might just be that it has no impact on us at all.”
But with a substantial loan, charges over the ground and guarantees in place, we wondered if there was any danger at all that the administrators could look at that package and suggest that it needed to be sorted out.
“I’m not sure at this stage that EWM are even in administration,” he commented. “I think they posted last week that it was an intent to go into administration and FRP are looking at that, so it might happen.
“That’s all coming probably because the government furlough scheme is coming to an end, and so forth and so on. So, when that happens we’ll know, but believe you me the directors of this club will be able to cope with whatever is given to us out of that.
“Should it be positive or negative, we will be able to cope with it and that’s because we’re in a much better place from a Carlisle United point of view than we were three or four years ago.
“Back then EWM came in and they helped us when we were in real need - and we were in real need. At that time we had to do two or three things. They helped us financially, that got us moving forward, and we had to substantially reduce costs.
“We did that, and we’re in a much better place for it. We always invested in the academy and we said many times that we wanted our kids to come through that way, and we even wanted to make the team up from lads who had come via that route.
“In fact, that has paid off, because some of them have moved on and that’s given us a bonus. That means that Carlisle United, starting with the EWM input and then going through the process of reducing the cost base, means that we’re fitter now than we have been for some years.
“We’re in a position where it’s gong to be lumpy going ahead, and we couldn’t go on forever, but we can ride the bumps of this Covid for a period of time, and that means we’re also in a much better place than a lot of clubs in League Two.
“EWM have helped with that and it means we’re not in a bad place at all, honestly, I can assure you.”
In terms of the much talked about succession, and where the current situation leaves that, he said: “It is frustrating to a degree, because we’re all getting older. I’m probably one of the youngest of the oldest ones, which is sad, isn’t it … no Steven Pattison is probably younger than me.
“Yes, we do need to get a succession done, but Covid has put that on ice just a little bit. We all expect to get through this Covid situation and we expect to move forward from there.
“I’m taking it that this is going to be somewhere between a six and nine-month blip in the journey going forward. We want to leave a stronger and better club than where we started.”
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