The chairman of Carlisle United’s supporters’ trust says he resigned after being urged to make a quick decision on a mystery “proposal” at the top level of the club.
John Kukuc says he stepped down from his position with CUOSC on principle because he could not support the proposal in a “tight timescale” that was requested.
Kukuc did not say what the proposal was but said it emerged last summer from a meeting of United’s influential Holdings board, which includes the club’s owners and financial backers Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
The supporter representative said he was “uncomfortable” to be asked for a decision before the matter had been given “wider discussion”, and could not go along with the majority of the CUOSC board who were in favour of it.
Kukuc told The Cumberland News: “In late June, the CUFC Holdings board held a meeting at short notice. At that meeting, agreement to a proposal was sought from all the Holdings board members.
“At the time, I was abroad on holiday. I received a call from our CUOSC representative on the Holdings board, Billy Atkinson, whilst I was on a beach, to ask if I would agree to this proposal on behalf of CUOSC.
“I did not agree, because I considered that this decision needed wider discussion and approval.
“I received two further calls – one from another Holdings board member – asking me to reconsider my opinions. I still disagreed, as I remained uncomfortable with being asked to make a decision on what appeared to be a tight timescale. I was subsequently informed that all other CUOSC board members had been asked the same question – with one exception, as he couldn’t be contacted – and they agreed with the proposal.
“Upon my return, our CUOSC board was presented with further information personally by a CUFC Holdings board member. This did not change my opinion.
“I resigned as chair and left the CUOSC board in early September. This was reluctantly accepted by the CUOSC board.
"I am unaware whether the proposal has been implemented.”
United’s Holdings board, which deals with strategic and major financial decisions at the club, consists of co-owners Andrew Jenkins, John Nixon and Steven Pattison, EWM’s group financial controller John Jackson, director Lord Clark and CUOSC’s Atkinson.
Kukuc added that CUOSC’s board members, who are all committed Blues fans, may not always agree on a course of action but usually come to a consensus and support majority votes. “This, though, was not a decision I felt I could go along with, and hence I resigned on a point of principle,” he added.
Despite Kukuc resigning in September after five years on the CUOSC board and three as chair, his departure was not announced by CUOSC to members until last weekend. In response, the trust said they had “tried hard” to persuade Kukuc to remain and only announced his departure once they were convinced he would not change his mind.
CUOSC added they could not say what the proposal was, but are “working behind the scenes to facilitate a number of important decisions – which are not uncommon this time of year.
“We don’t believe the differences John had with us were that great. However, we respect his decision,” they added.
They added that vice-chairman Frank Beattie has taken over as acting chairman, are speaking to others about joining the board, and hope to make an appointment shortly.
"We cannot say any more at this stage."
The supporters’ group, which owns 25.4 per cent of the Blues’ holding company, have two directors at the club – Atkinson and Jim Mitchell, the latter serving on the club’s operational 1921 board which covers day-to-day matters.
United chief executive Nigel Clibbens also declined to say what the “proposal” was or where it came from.
He added: “The ways of working and processes of CUOSC are clearly matters for them.”
“From a club point of view, a key part of the job of the CUOSC director on the Holdings board is to liaise closely with its own board, including speaking to its chairman.
“It happens in a variety of issues and proposals on an ongoing basis. We would be concerned if that didn’t happen.
“It’s also routine for club directors to speak to the CUOSC board members, this also includes their chairman. It’s part of building a close relationship between directors and shareholders and is something I have worked hard to develop.
“Without getting into specific detail, around the financial year end in particular, it is not unusual to have meetings where shareholder support is required, sometimes against a fixed timetable. Even in situations of a ‘tight timescale’ the proper processes are followed.
“CUOSC deal with those situations and with its board members in the way they feel best.”