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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Carlisle Utd make £124,000 loss but still want to build new stadium

Carlisle United made an operating loss of £124,329 last season, new figures show.

John Nixon photo
John Nixon

But the football club remains committed to building a new stadium to replace Brunton Park, despite Carlisle City Council’s lack of enthusiasm for associated ‘enabling development’.

Relations between the club and council hit a new low this week when the council’s deputy leader, Colin Glover, accused United managing director John Nixon of using “rhetoric” and “sabre rattling”.

The Blues unveiled plans a year ago for a 12,000-capacity all-seater stadium at Kingmoor Park, to the north of the city, paid for in part by building a retail park nearby.

The council has effectively ruled this out on the grounds that out-of-town retail would harm the city centre.

That prompted Mr Nixon to call on the authority to “show more ambition”.

His comments brought a forthright response from Mr Glover.

The Labour man told a council meeting on Tuesday: “Mr Nixon, on a BBC Radio Cumbria phone-in, mentioned a multiplex cinema, John Lewis or Ikea, giving the impression these are people he had lined up.

“He hadn’t discussed this with the council.

“I asked council officers to look into it and Ikea told us that Carlisle wasn’t on their radar.

“It disturbs me that Mr Nixon is trying to pluck names out of the air. I don’t know what point he is trying to make.

“What is clear is that Carlisle United want to build a stadium on land they don’t own with money they haven’t got.

“If they are serious about Project Blue Yonder [the club’s name for the stadium plan], they need to enter into serious discussions with the council and stop the rhetoric and stop the sabre rattling.

“The council is more than happy to help Carlisle United achieve their ambitions.

“We need to get into serious discussions within planning law and within planning guidance.”

Mr Nixon was reluctant to respond when The Cumberland News contacted him after the meeting.

He said: “We have had broad discussions with developers and we’ve had two-and-a-half years of discussions with the council. I am shocked that the council doesn’t believe they were serious.”

Details of United’s operating loss have been released ahead of its AGM on November 29.

The club says the 2011-12 season was “very difficult” from a financial point of view.

Gate income was static while expenses continued to rise. The average attendance for league games was 5,247, compared with 5,207 the season before.

Turnover was £652,141 lower, mainly due to the previous season’s success of winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Income from this competition was £420,000 lower after United crashed out in the first round, player sales reduced by £105,000 and FA Cup income was down £41,000.

Player wages reduced but bonus payments for league position increased.

The club finished eighth in League One, compared with 12th the year before.

Other costs included the setting up of a concession within Debenhams and its closure after nine months.

There were higher legal fees associated with staff reorganisation, higher motor expenses, rent and rates, while administration, wages and salaries increased because of a commercial reorganisation.

The board instigated a cost-reduction programme in May to make savings of £230,000 in 2012-13.

The aim is to ensure the club breaks even before any income from extended cup runs.

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