The news came as a total shock to most United fans, although Courtenay had talked of the need for supporters to start funding the club towards the end of last season, indicating his time as the major benefactor was coming to an end. No details have been released of how much locally-based builder Story has paid for the shares, but the value of the club's holding company appears to have fallen in recent years. He will hold a press conference at 2pm tomorrow to explain the deal and outline his plans and ambitions for the club in the years to come.
Story's immediate task will be to lift the Cumbrians out of the Conference after relegation last season. United kick-off the new campaign on August 14 at home to Canvey Island and Story will be hoping to kick off the new era with a large crowd. United began their pre-season fixtures with a 9-1 demolition of Kendal Town last Saturday and travel to take on Penrith tomorrow night. They then travel to the Isle of Man to take part in a four-team tournament.
Story has sat on the United board for the past year and has been involved in building work at Brunton Park this summer, when his company Story Construction, one of the fastest growing firms in the UK, built new crush barriers, turnstiles and toilet facilities at the Petteril End of the ground, which will be re-opening this season for away fans.
Courtenay's time at the club will be remembered for the roller-coaster Roddy Collins era and the desperate start to last season when Collins was sacked and Carlisle-born Paul Simpson appointed. United had a club-record run of 12 consecutive defeats to slide 15 points adrift at the bottom of the table near Christmas. Simpson then turned their fortunes around with some experienced signings but the Cumbrians were relegated with one game to spare, finishing four points adrift of safety. Simpson was hoping to cement his future this month by signing an extended contract. He has already moved into a new £500,000 home built by Story Homes near Carlisle.
Story is set to meet the Board of the newly-renamed United Trust (formerly CCUIST) next week to outline his plans for supporter involvement at Brunton Park. The Trust re-negotiated their deal to buy shares in the club with Courtenay last month. They will now own 25.1% of the Holding Company but must still raise £350,000 over the next three years to complete the purchase. They have launched a '£350 for United' scheme that aims to attract 1,000 individuals, companies, schools and other organisations and will reward them with a plaque on a special 'Wall of 1000' to be situated at Brunton Park.
Picture from News & Star