United Trust History
The United Trust came into being over three years ago. But back
in 2001 when the organisation was formed it was known as the Carlisle
& Cumbria United Independent Supporters Trust or CCUIST for
The Trust's Roots
Trust's roots are in the formation of the independent supporters'
group CISA (Cumbrians' Independent Supporters Association) back
in 1999. The idea behind this organisation which was founded by
Brian Hall, a long-standing supporters organiser, was to establish
a totally independent fans group in the wake of the winding-down
of the Official Supporters' Club and to look into the feasibility
of forming a Trust. The CISA came into being before the dawning
of a new age in football with the foundation of Supporters' Direct
(SD) in 2000. SD is a government-funded body whose main role is
to provide financial support and advice for new Supporters' Trusts.
Although the CISA in its original form did not directly evolve
into CCUIST, the efforts of Brian and his committee sparked interest
in the idea of forming a Trust amongst other groups of fans and
so it came to pass that in early 2001 a 'gang' of four of them got
together in a pub outside Carlisle to thrash out the beginnings
of what was to become CCUIST.
The First Group Of Volunteers
at first behind closed doors, the first group of volunteers held
a series of meetings in and around Carlisle to get people involved
and launch the Trust at a special public meeting to be held in the
Sands on the morning of the final match of the 2000-01 season.
A press launch was held a week before this momentous date and the
first wave of application forms went out along with invitations
to the big meeting on the following Saturday. Dick Young, Billy
Rafferty and Ross Brewster all made appearances in the local media
to kick the CCUIST idea into life and that first public meeting
will go down in history as one of the biggest ever staged in Carlisle.
1,100 supporters packed into the Sands on Saturday May 5 2001 to
hear the Trust's fledgling leadership speak of their plans to raise
money to buy shares and also to campaign for a change of ownership.
Alan Steel, who was CCUIST's first secretary, made his speech where
he compared the cost of buying shares to the hardship of giving
up two pints of beer a week. Thus the regular share fund donation
was born and within a week of that meeting, over 200 United fans
had already signed up to join the Trust.
Boycott and Protest Marches
By the start of the following season, that figure had swelled to
over 700. CCUIST was a great success story but the problem of the
ownership remained. CCUIST balloted its members as to whether they
should boycott selected home games in protest at the stalled negotiations.
Some 70% voted to stay away if they were asked.
the event, the new season brought false hopes of an early end to
the ownership problem as would-be buyer Brooks Mileson withdrew
from talks with Michael Knighton. CCUIST's response was to make
their protests known through a series of marches, starting at the
city's Turf Inn and continuing through the city centre and along
Warwick Road to Brunton Park. Fans were advised to make up their
own minds if they wanted to go into the ground or not. Approximately
300 supporters marched on December 1 2001 before the home game with
Scunthorpe. Maybe the spirit of the occasion brought United luck.
Whatever it was that inspired them, they won that match 3-0. The
next march, held on January 12 2002 brought even more luck. Supporters
made their way to Brunton Park waving banners and holding KNIGHTON
OUT posters and the game against Leyton Orient that followed brought
Carlisle's biggest win for many years - 6-1. However the most important
person at the ground that day had not been amongst the marchers.
His name? John Courtenay.
That emphatic success was a turning point in the 2001-02 season,
lifting United off the bottom rungs of the table and on their way
to a safe finishing position of 17th.
protest march held that day was to be the last for some months.
Within a week of the demonstrations outside the ground, John Courtenay
had already reached an agreement with owner Michael Knighton. He
believed he was on the verge of acquiring a controlling stake. CCUIST
Board members were by now in contact with Mr Courtenay and it was
during the next few tense weeks that hopes were continually raised,
and then dashed of any breakthrough being achieved.
The relationship between CCUIST and our potential new owner developed
and a strong bond was established between the two parties. CCUIST
was privy to some of the detail of the negotiations and continued
to hold back their protest whilst doing everything they could publicly
to encourage Mr Courtenay to achieve a successful purchase.
But as we all know on the afternoon of the 6th of April 2002, manager
Roddy Collins was relieved of his position as team manager following
comments made about the state of the takeover in the media.
March Around Brunton Park
reaction of supporters at the next away game at York on the Tuesday
night led to a rapid plan to stage a huge protest before the final
Saturday home game against Plymouth Argyle. CCUIST recognised that
Argyle fans, who were hoping to celebrate the clinching of the championship
that afternoon, would not be willing to boycott the fixture but
nevertheless, they were invited to take part in the pre-game marches.
An estimated 600-plus supporters marched around the ground before
the game and continued the demonstrations during the match that
Plymouth won 2-0. Just 3,080 turned out for the traditional end
of season party with almost 1,000 of those supporting the visitors.
The size of the protest brought very positive media coverage and
was the precursor to more protests before the final match against
Cheltenham and a weekend of 'Knighton Out' activities which involved
a mock set of stocks being erected in Carlisle city centre, a series
of banners being placed around the town, a slogan appearing on the
Civic Centre windows and a go-slow convoy of up to 100 vehicles
down the M6 motorway.
the end of May things had moved on apace. The club was placed in
administration following a winding-up order brought by the Inland
Revenue. CCUIST urged its members to write to the Revenue asking
them to reject any proposals that might allow the ownership to stay
A gloomy AGM of the Trust was
held at the Lakes Court Hotel in which 100 CCUIST members gathered
to hear of the state of play at Brunton Park. John Courtenay and
Brooks Mileson had joined forces at this stage and there was talk
of a deal being done with the administrators to buy the assets of
the club and continue in the Football League under the guise of
a new company.
Club Change Hands
the end, new talks were hastily arranged between Mr Courtenay and
Mr Knighton and on Friday July 26 2002 it was finally announced
that the club had changed hands, three years after the first set
of talks had been held and 15 months after the public launching
The news brought relief to United fans everywhere and CCUIST were
quick to open talks with the new owner about the possibility of
buying shares in the club in return for an elected representative
to sit on the Board. At this time, CCUIST members were instrumental
in resurrecting the Official
Supporters' Club (CUOSC) which went on to raise thousands of
pounds for the club in its' first full year of operations.
deal was agreed in principle and elections were held in November
to decide who would serve as representative. Alan Steel won the
most votes in this election, defeating Dick Young and Brian Hall
at the ballot box.
However, a quick resolution to the problem of acquiring shares
in a company that was still operating under a CVA (Company Voluntary
Arrangement) was not in sight.
CCUIST Acquires Shares
in the New Year an agreement was reached to acquire new shares in
the football club's holding company, CUFC Holdings Limited, and
to transfer these shares into the football club proper once the
company had managed to come out of the CVA. A cheque for £100,000
was presented to John Courtenay before the LDV Vans Trophy Final
at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on April 6. Some 25 new shares were
issued to give CCUIST a 20 per cent share of the holding company.
Alan Steel took his seat on the Board and a further two CCUIST
Board members in Dick Young and Lord Clark of Windermere were both
been invited to sit on the Board by John Courtenay. Approximately
£5,000 per month was being invested in the club as CCUIST
sets off towards the target of raising a further £300,000
by the spring of 2006.
wasn't rosy though in the United garden. As the Cumbrians slid to
the bottom of the league at the start of the 2003-04 season, and
manager Roddy Collins was relieved of his position, it was becoming
clear the club still had significant financial difficulties to overcome.
Although they finally exited the CVA in October, they were still
reliant to a great extent on John Courtenay's financial backing
to keep on paying the bills.
CCUIST Relinquishing Its 20% Option
March the financial position had started to become critical and
so Alan Steel, in his position of club director, devised a system
of new finance for the club. It involved CCUIST relinquishing its
20% option for the purchase of further shares and new investors
coming on to the Board as associate directors in return for stakes
of £20,000 each. The Trust however, would retain voting
rights on these shares.
However this scheme ran into legal difficulties and on March 26
Alan Steel resigned his position on the board of the football club
and as chairman of CCUIST. The events of that evening eventually
set the train in motion for a new look and a new name for the Trust.
Rowley took over as chairwoman and set about revitalising its
fundraising efforts. The Trust Board gained approval from its
members for the relinquishing of the 20% option and re-negotiation
to a guaranteed 25.1% stake in the football club. Owner Courtenay
gave approval for a change to a single 25.1% stake, however, in order to complete this purchase, they would need to
raise a further £350,000 over three years.
order to boost this fundraising effort, the Trust Board consulted
its membership and decided to change their name to The United Trust,
in recognition of the fact that the organisation was now very much
a part of the club and no longer needing a long and unwieldy name
to reflect their connection with Carlisle United FC. Alongside this
name change came a new campaign, dubbed '£350
for United' with the aim of getting 1,000 individuals, businesses,
pubs, clubs and schools to raise £350 each in return for a
plaque on a special 'Wall of 1000' to be situated outside Brunton
Park as well as a whole host of other benefits.
course, this scheme had barely been launched in July of 2004 when
the shock news came out of Brunton Park that John Courtenay was
to sell his majority shareholding to Fred Story. One of the first
tasks for the club's prospective new owner was to meet the Board
of the United Trust to seek their approval for the takeover. This
was granted in late July. The takeover was completed at the end of
Brooks Mileson's Big Match
The Trust announced an innovative "£1 for £1" deal with local
insurance tycoon Brooks Mileson, a well known supporter of the Trust
movement nationally. Mileson agreed to put in £1 to the share fund for
every £1 raised by the membership. Mileson also agreed to underwrite
the cost of the CUFC Centenary Dinner in November 2004. This proves
a big success, with Italian football legend Franco Baresi and former
England skipper Bryan Robson both attending as special guests. The
Blues Lotto is also launched by the Trust during the autumn and
proves a big hit, with over 1,000 regular players. The club
eventually took this on in the summer of 2005 and have since
developed it as one of the most successful lotteries in the county.
Brooks Mileson offered in November 2004 to make a one-off
donation of £600,000 to the Trust to enable it to complete the
purchase of 40% of Holdings as per the existing shareholders'
agreement. Due to an impasse in negotiations with Fred Story, this
was still in place. However Mr Story publicly challenged aspects of
this agreement, in particular the ongoing right of the Trust to
protect their stake against dilution. An ongoing and protracted
legal dispute followed which led to the Trust obtaining a temporary
injunction against Mr Story selling any of his shares. Mr Story went
to the High Court in November 2005 to try and get this injunction
lifted but the Judge Sir Donald Rattee upheld it and put in place a
surety of £80,000 upon the Trust . This was duly paid over to enable
the continuation of proceedings. Mr Story had publicly withdrawn
from negotiations in August of 2005. In March 2006 he eventually
agreed to go back into talks and these were held in London on May
10. After exhaustive negotiations a compromise was
reached and this was recommended to the Trust membership by its
Board. They voted to accept it at a Special General Meeting held at
Brunton Park on June 18, 2006. The new agreement allows the Trust to
purchase 25.37% of shares in the club's holding company at a total
cost of £800,000. Holdings can issue new shares but it must also
offer them in an equal portion to the Trust at £1 each, enabling the
Trust to protect its stake for future generations. Kate Rowley stood
down as fans' rep as part of this new agreement and was replaced by
Norman Steel with Chris Fuller as his deputy.
Share purchase completed & CUFC land asset protected
In December 2006, a loan of £60,000 was taken out to acquire the final
tranche of shares, giving the Trust a 25.37% stake in CUFC Holdings.
The Trust is currently raising money to repay this loan, through continued donations &
special events such as race nights, golf days and supporters social evenings.
A High Court order was obtained in May 2008 to protect an area of 110 acres of
land near the River Eden and bordering on the Tesco store at Rosehill, from being
given away by the football club. For two years, the club had stated its intention
to 'gift' the land to former owner John Courtenay, following an alleged agreement
between Story and Courtenay at the time of the club's sale in 2004. Costs in this
action are still to be finalised. The land was valued at £540,000 for agricultural
purposes by Knight Frank in 2008. However there is outline planning consent on a 5 acre
plot near to Tesco. The club are now required to sell this land at no less than full
market value and must also put in place an overage clause which will allow the club
to benefit from any increase in the land's value at a later date.