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FORUM: There has been progress

John Nixon on Purepay and Nigel Clibbens on training facilities

28 June 2023

United director John Nixon used the Tuesday night forum, along with a follow-up chat with the club's media team, to update fans on the situation with Purepay, with some progress having been made in terms of discussions with John Jackson and their board.

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“There has been progress, although I don't know if you'll think it's significant,” he said. “We're now engaging with them, face to face, and that was the case from just prior to Wembley.

“We had letters sent to them from the chairman, and from Nigel [Clibbens], and we've been in contact with them after that. It isn't easy, but we will keep talking.

“We've also had an update on the legal situation, so we know who we’re dealing with. Phillip Day sits outside of that, he isn't involved legally, so we know the two directors we're dealing with -  and one of them is a director of Carlisle United, so he's conflicted.

“We had a meeting with John Jackson off-site, because of that conflict. It doesn't sound like a lot, but when you've been dealing with Purepay, EWM, etc, this is a step forward.”

In terms of future investment for the club, or for a change of ownership, he acknowledged that the Purepay loan situation is one that needs to be resolved.

“Purepay is a barrier,” he told us. “It’s an on-demand payment so anybody who wants to put money into the club, and we have people who are on the blocks who want to do that with us being more successful, it is something they’re aware of.

“We also know we’re of an age where we simply can’t keep going. The club isn’t in danger, we have enough money to run next season, we can up the spend in League One without a problem.

“We’ll have more ticket income, more income from the EFL and the Premier League, and on average you’re going to have more gate income.

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“All of that will come in, and the extra you’re going to spend on wages will be balanced by it. On top of that, as I say, there’s enough cash to keep the whole thing running anyway.”

“But like I say, going forward we do need cash in and people are reluctant to do that when you have an on-demand payment sitting over it all,” he added. “That’s the biggest thing for us to deal with right now.

“We actually tried to do it a year ago, as soon as the loan was novated form the administrator to Purepay. We got in touch immediately and made an offer, but the reply was - no.

“We wrote last year and made another offer, and no reply came to that. Nigel wrote again in January, the chairman followed that up, and we’re currently engaging.

“We’ve got a legal position that’s been clarified, in other words we know who we’re dealing with now.

“We haven’t got there by any means, but we do appreciate that it’s a barrier and we’ve got things in place to try to remove it so that other people can come in without fear that the money they invest will disappear. We’re working away at that at this very point in time.”

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And it is that debt that provides one of the real challenges for the club at a time when things are gearing up to push on.

“At the risk of repeating ourselves it is one we really want to get to a position where everything around it is clear,” he told us.

“Other than that, we know we can’t do everything but we’re looking to improve things for the manager and for the club staff in every area and aspect we possibly can.

“We brought Nigel in as our chief executive and he’s reconnected with the fans in a way that we couldn’t. By we I mean Steven and Andrew, but particularly me.

“I found that more difficult to do than I should have, because I can generally talk to people about anything. Here it was difficult, but he’s rebuilt those relationships and that’s been important.

“Finding new investment has always been difficult, and we’ve had one or two false dawns of people who were promising the earth, but it then takes a long time to find out that there isn’t any real money there.

“Whatever comes from that the one thing we will have at the front of our minds is that it’s the future of the club in the EFL that’s important.”

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“The wonderful thing about Carlisle United, and I hope the fans appreciate this, is just how hard every member of staff works,” he concluded. “I look back to the flood of 2015, that put us under a bit of pressure, but the staff went above and beyond to get things up and running again.

“We have to thank Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston for the assistance they gave us, that was fantastic and it helped us to get games played.

“During the rebuild we moved the offices over to the east stand and that was a huge improvement. It’s made a big difference to how we can operate.

“We now have to turn our attention to improving training facilities and infrastructure within the club. There’s a lot of work still to do.”

Picking up on the theme on training facilities, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “We continue to look for suitable training facilities, we're trying to be creative, but it is tough.

“The main effort at the moment is going into sorting out the extra pitch at the back of the Pioneer Stand. That's going well, and we’re looking to seed it this month.

“On the more radical stuff - a bespoke proper training facility remains a way off. It’s important, we know it matters, the manager would dearly love a facility that was his, reliable and top quality, but it all costs money, or we need external help to achieve it.

“I've been watching how some clubs have been dealing with the issuing of bonds to fund things like this for a while, and what they actually are is loans from fans.

“It's clubs going to fans and saying - give us some of your money for us to spend. The thing is, they're loans, and they have to be paid back. What you get is that fans invest, institutions invest, and it becomes a financial deal.

“Will that work at this club? I'm not too sure. If I said to everyone that I have a great proposition, lend us money, I'm not certain that would fly here.

“You have to have stability in your ownership for a long time because these bonds last for years. I don't think it would work here.”

You can watch the full forum here:

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