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CHIEF EXEC: Fan engagement update

United come third in annual review

28 February 2022

United finished third in the annual review of club fan engagement across the divisions.

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Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “It’s important for us to say that continuing to push on with fan engagement initiatives is important at all times, but in no way does it detract from the main business of winning on the pitch - this is especially important now. 

“I think it brings fans and club closer over the longer term. It’s essential to do this if the aim is to be a strong club, and the recommendations of the fan-led review show that.

“I have consistently championed fan engagement, and I firmly believe in fan representation. Supporters involved on the inside of the club, on its boards (via the Supporters’ Trust - CUOSC) and through fan groups (Carlisle United Supporter Groups - CUSG), are a benefit to the club and fans alike. 

“Just looking at the events over the last week, CUOSC played a key role in the changes the club made, voicing fan concerns in a very forthright manner.  

“I met CUSG on Monday and we talked about a possible ‘promo’ game and a football forum to galvanise fans. I then met with London Branch of the Supporters’ Club on Saturday.

“Fans were also able to take part in CUOSC member meeting last Thursday.  We saw the fans looking for the club ‘to go for it’ to support Paul Simpson and the team, and we listened to the suggestions of a targeted game and a forum with prices slashed for Northampton and a forum with Paul on Thursday.

“Working together with our fans makes the club better - it’s that simple for me. It’s been the approach since coming to the club. It’s the right thing to do. It gives those running the club better insight on what fans think and a closer connection with supporters. At the same time, it gives fans a first-hand, honest and direct perspective about the issues facing the club, and its judgements and decisions.

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“Our consistent success in ‘fan engagement’ compared with other clubs is proven by this independent assessment. It’s something to be proud of as it shows us to be ‘up with the best’ in what we do and our approach. Lots of fans and staff play a part, so thanks to them!

“At the same time, we are realistic that we have issues, despite doing so well in many areas. We always need to do more, and I understand some fans still feel frustrated at what we don’t do. 

“I have said before there is no escaping that fact we have challenges in certain areas to face up to. Overall, I do feel we do a lot very well, but the gaps are there. If we can sort that, we can finish higher!

“I do hear some fans say they feel they are not currently represented or that they feel the Supporters’ Trust doesn’t do what they want it to, and they call for a better fan voice. We understand fans want to hear more from the ownership and others at the very top of the club on the board. That’s what fans say, so the concerns need listening to. We are listening and we are doing our best to address them.

“The fan-led initiative to drive up CUOSC membership brings a welcome opportunity to help reinvigorate and introduce fresh ideas. New groups in CUSG does the same for that overall group. The opportunity is there for fans to join in by being a member of CUOSC, or through the many other fan groups within CUSG, or even if they start something new.

“Individual fans can come in and speak to the board, or individuals in the club, or contact CUSG, or the SLO, at any time. Many fans contact me direct. Even on Saturday fans stopped me and gave me a very tough going over. That’s part of the job. The door is open.  

“That is different to saying we will and can do all the things our fans want us to do, or that we can do it when they want it, but the fan voice is heard and not ignored - I can assure you all of that and I can promise that will continue while I am here at the club.

“The club remains fully committed to being inclusive, open and welcoming. We will continue to listen and engage with as many fans as we can, with all the diverse opinions and views that go with it.

“We want to have the best level of fan engagement we can achieve.”

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