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CHIEF EXECUTIVE: It is absolutely essential we get crowds back

Latest update from Nigel Clibbens on potential Brunton Park test event

15 September 2020

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens gave us an update on the potential of the club being able to host a 'test event' at Brunton Park this coming weekend.

"We have submitted our request to the EFL to have fans with us for a test game on Saturday against Southend," he confirmed. "This was with the full support of the chairman of our Safety Advisory Group. We are still waiting to hear if we are one of the matches selected.

"The health of the public and our fans and staff is the absolute priority. A set of operational guidelines to maintain social distancing at grounds has been drawn up by the authorities and we have spent a lot of time carefully making sure we can follow and adhere to them. 

"In my updates to fans we have explained the issues and the response has been very supportive and understanding. We have tried to be totally open and show respect to our fans every step of the way. I think, if and when we get fans back, that approach will pay off.  

"Fans will have seen successful pilot events have been held across all sports, including at Cambridge in the EFL Trophy last week. That has tested the guidance and shows that clubs and fans can be responsible, and that games can go ahead safely.

"I have been in close contact with Ian Mather [CEO at Cambridge] to share information, which has been really helpful. We have been working towards our test game against Southend, before the return of fans from early October, based on the information and timetable which was issued a few weeks ago. 

"It is clear that football is facing an impending financial crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All clubs lost gate income in the 2019/20 season due to playing matches behind closed doors, and League One and League Two could not afford to finish the season.

"The government furlough scheme was absolutely invaluable to us, but that is now ending. With every game that goes by, the losses and problems are mounting. It is estimated that EFL clubs could lose another £200m if crowds do not return during the 2020/21 season. That’s over £20m a month during the season.

"It is absolutely essential we get crowds back at Carlisle United and also across the EFL. That requires the first step of a test game at Brunton Park, and then spectators to return in-line with the timetable and plans that are already in place and ready to go.  

"We will update as soon as we have further information."

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