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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Carlisle United Trust to hold open meeting to prove their worth

The chairman of the Carlisle United Trust today spoke of his hope that an open meeting this week will convince people of the value of the fans’ group at Brunton Park.

Norman Steel photo
Norman Steel

And Norman Steel, who sits on the Blues board, says the open forum may also demonstrate that the people running the trust are not “extremists”.

Steel is inviting supporters to the club this Friday evening to ask questions about the trust movement on a national level and also about their involvement at Carlisle, where they have a 25 per cent shareholding.

He is the trust’s elected director on the board at Brunton Park and said fans will be welcome to ask and challenge him on any aspect of their history and activities.

“I see it as a time to bring awareness to people in Carlisle and Cumbria that we have a trust, and if they want to get involved more, they are welcome to join,” Steel said.

“It is about trying to educate people – not that everyone needs educating – that they have a route to the boardroom at their own football club, via the trust and their nominated director.

“Is this sort of meeting overdue? Probably. But I try to be realistic about where the trust is, what it has achieved and what it would like to achieve further.

“If it goes well and the atmosphere is healthy, hopefully we could hold one every couple of months, and demonstrate to the public at large that we are not extremists – you only have to look at some of us to see that.

“It is about education and awareness.”

Steel acknowledged the trust had been party to “some difficult situations” since its launch in 2001.

They initially formed in a bid to oust unpopular chairman Michael Knighton but later clashed with former owner Fred Story and were embroiled in a legal battle over the destination of floodplain land belonging to the club.

Steel insists relations with the club’s hierarchy are now more cordial and said this Friday’s meeting was about transparency.

He added: “We’ve made some strides with senior management of the club – this will be the first event of this type held on club premises. Perhaps that in itself is an indication that things are moving in the right direction.”

On the meeting’s aims, he added: “It is centred around the Supporters Direct initiative – they are the governing body of trusts up and down the country.

“They are trying to put pressure on the Government and football authorities for greater supporter participation in their clubs, and trying improve greater transparency on the Financial Fair Play side of things.

“Initially that's what the meeting is about – awareness in the first instance.

“We at Carlisle have already achieved a 25% shareholding and the right to nominate a director on the board of the club. We are, I would suggest, somewhat advanced of where some other trusts are.

“I would obviously like people to join the trust, because we've not had an easy time over the years with some situations. But more important than that, I would like more supporters to be coming down to Brunton Park. That determines what the manager can spend on players.

“Whether this is a way of achieving that, I don't know, but we feel it's worth a shot. The most important thing is for more people to get involved with Carlisle United on a general basis.”

The meeting runs from 6.30-8.30pm this Friday in the Sunset Suite at Brunton Park and all the trust board will be present.

JColman@cngroup.co.uk

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