The press reports on Clibbens' comments

Carlisle Utd chief says directors have converted £480,000 loans to shares

Nigel Clibbens also says there have been no talks with Edinburgh Woollen Mill about the club's ownership

Carlisle United directors have exchanged loans worth £480,000 for shares in the club, chief executive Nigel Clibbens has confirmed.

The move means the Blues no longer owe co-owner John Nixon £20,000 or Lord Clark £10,000, while the club's debt to chairman Andrew Jenkins has also been reduced.

They have received non-voting shares which Clibbens says have no financial value - "a change many fans called for", the chief executive said.

United have also reduced their debt to Jenkins' firm Pioneer "by nearly 20 per cent", but the club's overall debt remains around the £2 million mark due to loans from Edinburgh Woollen Mill since March.

The club's previous accounts for 2015/16 showed the debt to Jenkins as £980,000 and £680,750 to Pioneer.

In a lengthy article on the club's website, Clibbens said United's accounts for 2016/17 would show the club also increased its football budget despite a reduction of £700,000 of "football fortune" from things like player sales and cup ties.

They could do this in part because of increased business income at Brunton Park, said the chief executive, adding that the club wanted to back the push for promotion under Keith Curle.

The accounts, he added, would show a loss of similar levels to previous seasons that did not see major windfalls, when they are published in the new year.

Clibbens, meanwhile, denied that EWM - headed by Cumbria's richest man Philip Day - were seeking to own the club.

In March the firm made a "loan facility" available to the Blues, secured against Brunton Park.

Clibbens apologised for the club's inability to tell fans how much money this entailed, saying the club respected EWM's stance of conducting its business confidentially.

But he stressed there had been no discussions regarding ownership of the Blues. 

"No discussions have ever been held on that and none are taking place now," Clibbens said.

"I have tried to be careful in making this clear in the past, but I am happy to reiterate it again to avoid any doubt."

Clibbens said United were grateful for EWM's support and that their relationship was "strong and developing in the right direction".

While United inform EWM of "the major plans and direction" of the club, including summer transfer plans, Day's firm have no "day-to-day involvement" at Brunton Park.

Clibbens said the "commercial" relationship, which includes EWM's sponsorship of United's shirts, was unlikely to change this season.

Regarding supporters' wish for more news on that subject, he said: "It is worth remembering this arrangement has not been in place for a year.

"Football is a business where we are conditioned to demand everything today, and I am aware some fans may see no news on that front as a worry. It shouldn’t be."

Clibbens added that EWM "has delivered on everything it said it would do so far" and their backing "is making a direct difference to what we are able to do as club". 

The United director, meanwhile, said Curle's contract situation would soon be discussed as part of a half-season review.

The manager's current deal is up next summer. Clibbens said the club will continue to support the manager and his staff and that it was "business as usual".

The issue of United's stadium was described as a "top priority" for all the club's owners and "early steps" were being taken about what the club would realistically need from a ground and how it could be funded.

Clibbens' article came after the club's hierarchy had been challenged by former United midfielder, News & Star columnist and BBC Radio Cumbria pundit Chris Lumsdon to be more proactive in their communication with supporters.