Carlisle United’s chief executive has denied the club are operating with a reduced budget again as fans wait for news of much-needed signings.
Nigel Clibbens says the Blues’ spending plans are at the same level as last year.
United have brought in three players so far but remain in need of a further influx after a host of departures.
Despite being in talks with a number of targets, they are still waiting for progress on deals – likewise with contracts offered to existing players Mike Jones, Stefan Scougall and Jamie Devitt.
Clibbens insisted, though, that the club are in a better position than this time last year because of the stability in the managerial position.
He said United’s spending on players was in the bottom half of League Two last season but believes they can remain “competitive” in the market.
The director said: “We’re exactly as we were last year in terms of overall budget.
“With the financial forecasts we’ve been putting together, we are working on the same numbers as we were this time last year.
“As the season progresses, with football, cup fortune etc, and where you are in the league, the budget can change. We saw that [last] season. We started off with a figure, and then when we got to January we were able to look at that again.
“We envisage that would be the same this time. We’re starting from the same point.”
Carlisle have said they are “not panicking” about the need for several signings.
They are awaiting developments after recently tabling an offer to a striker, while both manager Steven Pressley and director of football David Holdsworth have met a number of players and agents. They also remain keen on a deal with Rotherham for former loan frontman Jerry Yates.
Clibbens said the club are under no illusions about the level of recruitment needed.
He said: “It’s been clear probably since this time last year that, over the [next] 12 months and beyond to where we are now, there was going to be a hell of a lot of work to do on recruitment.
“You could see that from the number of players coming out of contract. Of the permanents we recruited in the last [summer] window, we’ve only retained one of them in Adam Collin. We didn’t get that sort of continuity, so that defers the problem and carries it forward.
“We’re sat here thinking, ‘Ok, there’s a lot of work to do’. But we’re in a better position to do that because we’ve got a manager in place who’s been in the job for five-six months already, and we’ve got the support we didn’t necessarily have last year with David [Holdsworth] having been here near enough a year.
“We’ve got more ability to get that right. They are working very hard. They’ve been looking at targets, drawing up lists, and have been going to lots of games for a long period.
“We’ve got more targets to go at, which gives you a better chance of getting the ones you want. But it’s an exciting time and everybody will be watching what happens.”
Clibbens said the current situation bears “no comparison” with last summer’s frustrating wait to appoint a new manager, accompanied by a late scramble to sign players as well as arrange friendlies.
He added: “There are a lot of names to come in, a lot of deals to be done, but as we’ve seen in the first few weeks after the season, they can be done very quickly.
“Just because deals aren’t being released and done, it doesn’t mean they’re not progressing and that things aren’t happening. It’s hard to say we’re looking at this, that and the other player until they’re done. But there’s lots going on.”
Clibbens is currently in Portugal representing United at the EFL clubs’ summer conference, where the financial state of clubs is on the agenda.
On budgets, he added: “We get benchmark data after the August window, and again in January-February after the winter window.
“We were in the bottom half of the division in the February return.
“If you look at the top three or four [spenders], their commitment at that point was considerably higher than it had been the previous year. We’re seeing a trend that the big spenders are spending more in the quest for success.
“[But] if you look at the league table, there’s very little correlation between who was spending and who was most successful. If you were doing a statistical exercise, you wouldn’t be relying on [spending levels] as a measure of success.
“As I’ve said, you need a competitive budget, which allows you to compete. But beyond having a base level, it’s then what you do with that.
“We’ve seen lots of examples. If you look at what clubs do, you can see people can spend their cash on a lot of players, or a tighter squad. You could have a lot of churn or a smaller number of players.
“There’s different ways to go about your business. From our point of view we’ve said we’ve got to spend every penny we’ve got as effectively as we can.
“The budget we have has proved competitive, absolutely, last year. A lot of clubs found, as we found in previous years, that having a lot more money doesn’t guarantee success.”