In a smashing guest post, Mark Nicholson Carlisle correspondent for the splendid We Are Going Up! asks the $64 million question - is it time for Carlisle fans to rest on our laurels? And if it isn't, where does that leave our man Abbott?
Realistic; Adjective - interested in, concerned with, or based on what is real or practical.
Ever since Greg Abbott took charge at
he has talked about Championship football being a realistic aim. Certainly over the last 2 seasons the talk during pre-season has been about this being 'our year' to at least have a good go at the play offs or, who knows, even higher. Brunton Park
The question now has to be asked - is The Championship a realistic aim for Carlisle United Football Club at this point in time?
From boardroom level, and with the resources available to those in the seats around the Brunton Park boardroom table, the club is ran very well. The home grown, shrewd business sense of John Nixon, Andrew Jenkins and Steven Pattison should not be taken lightly. These are 3 successful Cumbrian businessmen who have proven they know very well how to run a successful concern.
There is an argument that football clubs should not be run as a business and those good at that practice don't necessarily translate to the sporting arena. But surely for a football club to be sustainable it needs to be run as a business and by business people?
Too many football clubs over the last 5 years have been run with the ‘business’ taking a back seat. A gung-ho, eggs in one basket attitude towards getting as high up the footballing pyramid as possible with all eyes firmly fixed on the pot of gold that is the Premier League. Getting to that pot of gold with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude is reckless and unsustainable. In the current climate a sustainable and practical model for running a football club must be taken to ensure as few situations like those of Scarborough, Portsmouth and Plymouth are repeated within the modern game.
On that front, the Carlisle board of directors should be commended for the way in which the club is run. Living well within it's means, and even making a little profit (albeit it thanks to some sizeable player sales and two trips to Wembley in the last 2 years) the club looks, from the outside at least, to be steering it's way through some tough economic times with relative ease.
Whilst the club isn’t making huge amounts of money we are able to reinvest, it’s the shrewdness of the board that means we all still have a team to support on a Saturday afternoon. It’s the shrewdness of the board that means we aren’t going through the turmoil of those Plymouth fans on the south coast who might well be looking for something else to do on a Saturday afternoon very soon.
It may be time however, to adjust the clubs (and fans) idea of what can be achieved on our extremely modest budget. Before you can even exit League 1 you must overcome the likes of Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Huddersfield and
Preston. For a club such as Carlisle United to complete with those big spenders in the division is surely an achievement in itself. Those inside the club need to take a look at our current situation; re-evaluate what can actually be achieved and adjust the expectations of the supporters accordingly.
If The Championship is still seen to be a realistic aim, then perhaps the man who’s tasked with bringing Championship football to
should be heavily scrutinised. Perhaps the board would then find that Greg Abbott, while he has done many good things in charge of Carlisle United, has taken the club and this team as far as he can. Brunton Park
If, as I suspect, Championship football is found to be an unrealistic aim for the club at the moment then perhaps fans should take a step back, see that we’re in the top half of an extremely tight division with 17 points from 11 games and realise that on the grand scale of things, that isn’t such a bad start. In fact, for Carlisle United to be a mid-table League 1 side isn’t such a bad thing at all.
Or would you rather we blew it all in search of the end of that Rainbow?