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Club News

CUSG: Minutes from the February meeting

Update from the latest meeting

24 February 2022

Club News

CUSG: Minutes from the February meeting

Update from the latest meeting

24 February 2022

Remote meeting via Zoom, 21February 2022.


MANAGER: I just wanted to come and try to help

24 February 2022

Attendance –  Gary Wylie (LGBTQ+ Supporters, Chair), Keith Ward (Scottish Supporter), Terry McCarthy (London Branch), Simon Clarkson (SLO), Nigel Davidson (CUOSC), Alastair Woodcock (CUOSC), Keith Elliott (CUSAT),  Barbara Abbott (Disabled Group), Andy Hall, Amy Nixon, Nigel Clibbens (CUFC)

Apologies – Jim Mitchell (CUOSC), John Ireland (West Cumbria Travel), Barry Carter (Disabled Group)

Gary Wylie chaired the meeting as LGBTQ+ Supporters rep.

  1. Club update

This had been circulated in advance and is included separate to the main summary.

Click HERE to download and read the club update.

Nigel Clibbens stated that retaining EFL status was the most important thing at the club. Other initiatives continue but won’t distract from the main job in hand.

Members raised concerns and put questions to Nigel C.

Gary Wylie asked about the daily tasks undertaken by the Director of Football David Holdsworth around the club?

Given David is no longer at the club the issues raised are not detailed here.

Gary asked about a rumour that Keith Millen had resigned. 

Nigel C stated that Keith Millen had ‘clearly’ not resigned. He talked about an ‘echo chamber’ on social media that helped to spread rumours and help them get believed. He said the club can’t respond to rumours. He added that the club puts out news on club issues as soon as they can.

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A question was asked about the next owners’ forum, including a suggestion that the club had missed a deadline for holding one?

Nigel C – the deadline has not passed. He said the club was always compliant with the EFL regulation. The issue was discussed with the club’s shareholders on Saturday and they were aware. No date had yet been set. Nigel C said he expected the club to comply.

Simon asked if a football forum with the manager might galvanise fans?

A forum had been discussed with Keith Millen. Nigel C said Keith would take part in one this week, and offered to do so. He said a club decision had been taken to put on hold just now. There was a need to focus on the next game. Andy reiterated that Keith Millen was ‘100% keen’ to do a forum. Andy had put it off during January due to the transfer activity that was taking place during that month. Keith was still keen to face the fans despite the negative feelings of many. The club didn’t think it was appropriate to have one right now.

Simon asked if an ‘8k for MK’ style promotion would be a good idea?

Nigel C said the staff at the club love doing those type of promotions but the timing would be crucial. He didn’t think it would ‘galvanise’ fans at the moment. The positive sentiment for such a promotion has declined, understandably. Andy stated that any new campaign would look different this time due to the league position the club found itself in. If the circumstances were right, the club would do one.

[Additional information: EFL Regulations like 34.3.7 exist around match pricing which restrict what the club can do. The club cannot unilaterally simply cut prices or undertake price promotion without consultations and approvals which severely constrain short notice ticket price initiatives and changing arrangements already in place.]

Match Previews


24 February 2022

Simon saw fracturing within the fanbase and wanted to know how fans can operate better to be more united? He said it was sad to see some CUSG reps falling out over EDI issues. He said it was almost impossible to engage constructively with the club’s owners, while there was criticism of others who are transparent and do engage. Terry said the position of the club is driving the fracture. Winning games would get people communicating better. Barbara said she had a frank discussion with Nigel D at the weekend. She also spoke to John Nixon, and attended the CUOSC surgery. Her view was that nothing much had changed in 10 years. Keith Elliott said new ownership was needed to pull people together. He wasn’t hopeful of change, despite reports from CUOSC of interest from potential investment sources. Gary said the ‘toxicity’ around the club stems from the owners. He talked about ‘10 years of lack of action’.

Nigel C said fans are the lifeblood of the club. He said that all the CUSG reps put the club first. It can’t thrive without fans who are willing to play a part. He agreed that fans’ views need to be heard. He accepted it was too easy to dismiss negative sentiment to a few ‘vocal fans’ or social media. He agreed the club was as much the fans’ club as anyone who sits in the directors box. He said the owners also accepted they were custodians and this was what they had said all along. We are all in it together.  He accepted the club needed fans to help take it to a better position. Simon asked if Billy Atkinson was able to convey fans’ views in the boardroom? Nigel C said yes. The first message when he joined the club was to help get CUOSC better involved and a place on the Holdings board to have that voice. This was achieved. Now he thought some fans didn’t want that voice on that board anymore. He said fans were heard loud and clear and the club is committed to engaging to do that – like him being at CUSG facing fans and Billy being on the board.

Nigel D stated that the CUSG was formed in the first place to address issues like this. He said it was a crisis time. There was therefore a need to come together. He said a message needed to be sent that the club has got 15 games left to stay in the EFL.

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Keith Ward agreed with these opinions and said fans needed to be together.

Andy said he was a ‘massive advocate’ of the CUSG. He said few forums exist like it anywhere, at any level, where both shareholder and CEO are attending and contributing. He said it was important the members of the group treated each other with respect. It was important to do all these things together to keep the group united.

He said the EDI work done to date was ‘unbelievable’ because the club need to do this work as part of the EFL remit. He said Nigel D’s efforts have taken pressure off the club. It should be recognised that it is good work. Procedural issues aside, it was vital to do it, he stated. Gary apologised for inviting guests to this meeting without a prior discussion. Nigel D wished to take the responsibility for that. He wanted two or more guests to attend a separate session to discuss future CUSG reps from EDI groups.

Nigel C talked about various EDI issues. He said the club was supporting these campaigns not because they think there are big issues at CUFC, necessarily. They helped raise issues that are nationwide in our wider community. He said he has spoken to people who don’t see racism or other prejudicial behaviour happening. He accepted he did not experience it himself or knew many people that do. However he knew it happened. He had spoken to people at the My Club, My Shirt launch event at Tullie House. People there were happy that the club were reaching out to them. The club will engage with any fan, whatever their background. Nigel C said it was good to see CUSG EDI projects come to fruition.

Nigel C said there were issues on Saturday in the ground. Action was taken to stop such chanting taking place. The club is in the spotlight on issues like this. The responsibility for taking action lies with the club and it must and will take it.

Nigel C addressed the response to a CUOSC briefing and items that had subsequently appeared in the newspaper. Nigel D said the responses from CUOSC came from questions asked by a supporter. He stated that any discussions held up to now were at a very early stage. An outcome to the debt situation was being sought in the meantime. He accepted the answer could have been better worded. The position at the club was unchanged. Nigel C said he had been informed of an intermediary approaching CUOSC. This individual had also contacted the club before. It was as finance agent/broker/intermediary not as a direct investor. Nigel C understood the contact would need to try and find an interested party and had no investor specifically interested. He hoped to be able to find someone for a fee.

Nigel C made the position clear to avoid any doubt:

No new people/investors/enquiries had come forward since his last update to CUSG. No new discussions had started. No progress had been possible on the long-standing interest dating back many months previously referred to by John Nixon at a forum (Plan B had not been able to progress and the other far less developed interest Plan C had gone away since Nigel C last update).

Nigel C added in his view, in the short term, regardless of the debt, progress on a takeover would be dependent on confirmation of EFL status.

Simon said it looked like nothing was being done to renegotiate the debt. He asked if this process was ongoing or dead in the water?

Nigel C said a request had been put forward in December to discuss the debt as was made public in a previous Holdings board statement. The board had entered into discussions with Purepay Retail over the repayment of the loan facility. That was public record and not new. Dialogue was still open and ongoing and the club was awaiting for a response.

Simon asked how fans could put pressure on PurePay to act over the debt. Nigel C declined to be drawn or respond. He said, as it was unfair to expect him to respond on that.

Nigel C said he had always called the loan a ‘commercial facility’ with interest charged from Day 1. It was not advanced as a ‘gift’ or on the understanding that it would not have to be paid back. The initial loan from EWM was provided at a time when the club was going through particular financial hardship.  The Holdings Board have always said they are sincerely appreciative of EWM, Purepay Retail and those connected to them over the last few years for their continued financial and corporate support, to which the shareholders and the club are and will always be profoundly grateful.

The loan was entered into in good faith, he said. Now it had to be dealt with. He said all his references had been to a ‘discussion’ not a ‘negotiaton’ around the debt. Nigel reiterated he chooses his words carefully as he considers every word counts and is important.

The group wished to state that they were disappointed with the time taken by PurePay to respond to the debt situation.

Barbara asked who was responsible for scouting at the club? Nigel C said the club does not employ a full-time scout. In all his time here the club had never employed one. Lee Dykes was in such a role before he came but then changed roles. Amy said the coaching staff all do scouting work. IT allows staff to watch a lot of player targets on video.

**** Two days after this meeting, the club announced Keith Millen was leaving by mutual consent, and David Holdsworth was stepping down from his role as Director of Football. Paul Simpson was announced later the same day as the new manager, taking charge of first team affairs until the end of the season.

  1. Communications including questions from fans update

Answers were being given by groups and the club. Simon liked the transparency from CUOSC briefings where answers to questions were being given. Keith Ward said there had been no further approaches from the media for interviews or statements.

  1. Finance & Fundraising update

£1910.53 in bank. £18 cash with Terry for pin badge sales. £448 ringfenced for Murphy’s bar (likely to be re-assigned) and  £114 for prediction competition prizes.

  1. Events and Projects update

Aside from EDI events covered separately, there were two fans’ forums to host by CUSG, both to come. Two bars were being revamped. The last frame for Murphy’s bar was with the joiner and would be going in soon. The date of the formal re-naming of the bar was to come. Andy suggested it could be done on ‘Legends day’ in April.

Nigel D said progress had been made regarding the Roma anniversary with Italian-based contacts.

  1. Equality and Diversity update – Guests: The Faith and , Black and brown group (provisional name to be confirmed)

An email update already circulated contained the detail (to be posted separate to this summary). Gary suggested votes could be held in private on the matter of adding new reps to the group. Simon thought no vote should be necessary, just a discussion first. Nigel D again suggested a separate meeting be arranged to invite potential new reps. Andy said a permanent chair of CUSG would help in sorting out things like this.

Click HERE to read the EDI briefing note.

  1. SLO update

Simon said in his role as the SLO he was in tune with fans’ thoughts at present. Every opportunity to talk to them had been taken. He was passing on concerns as well as other more minor issues. He said the club respond quickly to issues that have been raised. He said it was a tough time to be in his position. He aims to continue trying to improve the match day experience. He singled out Keith Elliott for praise in his role as away SLO.

  1. Group updates:
  • Disabled – WRE progress & Issues

John Kukuc was helping. He was getting three quotes for the work to be done, and these should be ready by Friday. A Zoom meeting had been arranged to consider these and make a decision. John was being made project manager. A contractor was arriving at Brunton Park tomorrow. The group’s Facebook page was ready to go live.

  • LBGTQ+ –

Gary had arranged a meeting with Pink and Cumbria Pride for March 14. He was setting up the group and would add more members.

The CUOSC Cup was still being planned. With a lot more connections made since the initial event had to be postponed due to COVID in 2020, it was hoped it would now be even more successful. Gary suggested it should be announced as soon as possible. Nigel D said May 1 was the current target date for it, subject to pitch work.

  • Scottish Supporters -

Keith echoed the thoughts of the group and said that fans needed to stick together because of the tough situation at the club. His group had put together some questions but Keith felt they’d all been answered in the earlier part of the meeting.

  • CUOSC -

Representatives from the board met representatives of the new group Unita Fortior on Saturday.

As we said in our social media output, this was a constructive discussion where there was common ground on a way forward for both Trust and Club. The events of the past two years off the field were discussed, along with ways to communicate more effectively as an organisation.

Members’ meeting on Thursday evening in Foxy’s will give a chance for the discussion to be broadened. Almost 130 new members have joined in the past month. Membership has gone back above 500.

CUOSC is hosting the club’s questionnaire on the new catering set-up at Brunton Park. Responses are not running at the same levels as the summer survey. Results will be shared with the club when the questionnaire is closed. CUOSC will send out an email to all members dedicated to the survey this week (email was sent on Wednesday evening).

  • London Branch –

CUSCLB have recently approved £2,000 funding for CUFC’s academy. The money will be used to buy new equipment and to help pay for academy teams to take part in a football tournament in Manchester.

250 Roma / Carlisle anniversary t shirts have now been sold, with £2 for each sale being donated to The Alzheimer’s Society.

Nigel C will be meeting London Branch members in The Birbeck Tavern (45 Langthorne Rd, London, E11 4HL) prior to Saturday’s game v Leyton Orient. All Carlisle supporters attending the game are invited to this event

The London Branch football team will be playing their first game in over two years when they take on an Orient supporters team on Saturday morning at Hackney Marshes.

  • Travel - Any Plans & Issues

Keith said younger fans were now travelling to matches. The numbers were still good despite results. A trip to Sheffield for the last weekend of the season had been arranged, to take in the Bradford City game.

- AOB, Agree date of next meeting (provisional 04 April)

Keith said he was happy about the launch of Unita Fortior. Gary said he saw it as good for the club, and welcomed them as a new supporters’ group.

Nigel C said there was a piece in the Swindon programme about fans making the most of CUOSC and the opportunity its presents.

The CUSG group stated they were ‘Happy to see a movement trying to increase membership of CUOSC.’

Nigel C used the screen share feature to show a new mug design for Roma 72, to be available soon.

Terry to chair the next meeting (April 4).


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