United owner praises free ticket scheme

Published on
26 April 2024

Carlisle United’s American owner has praised a scheme which has helped more than 30,000 youngsters visit Brunton Park.

Tom Piatak said the scheme which has run for the past 18 years, thanks to funding from the Cumberland Building Society, was a great way for the club to strengthen its community links.

He took time to greet the youngsters attending United’s final home fixture against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

“I love to see the kids here. It’s important to us to encourage them to come and for them to get their friends to participate. That’s how we grow the community support that the club needs,” he said.

The Cumberland delivers the club’s community ticket scheme, which provides up to 200 free tickets to primary schools, community groups and junior football teams for every game at Brunton Park.

Andrew Gordon, business development manager for The Cumberland, said: “It’s a great scheme. They see a match, meet some of the players, get their picture taken with the mascot Olga, walk round the pitch and sit in the dugout. They also receive a free ticket and a half-price adult ticket for the next home game.”

He added: “There’s a natural affinity between the local football club and the local building society. Through this scheme, we’re helping to create the fans of the future.”

Although the Blues slipped to a 3-1 defeat on Saturday, at the end of a disappointing season that saw the club relegated, the youngsters’ enthusiasm was undimmed.

Charlie Cameron, 12, who was there with Stanwix Hornets U12s, is already looking ahead to the next campaign in League Two.

He said: “It has been tough, we’ve conceded so many goals, but I think we’ll bounce back next season and get promoted.”

That view was echoed by seven-year-old Sebby Walby, of Warwick Wanderers Under 7s. He said succinctly: “We’re going to go up!”

Niamh Lander, 11, part of a group from Bolton Primary School, near Appleby, has been inspired by the England women’s team. The Cumberland says the Lionesses’ success has led many more girls to attend matches.

Niamh said: “I watch the Lionesses whenever I can, but I like watching Carlisle United too. I’ve been before with my family. I don’t know how they’ll do next year but it has to be better than this season. They can bounce back.”

Charlie, Sebby and Niamh are among 1,516 youngsters to have received free tickets in 2023-24. Andrew Little, a coach with Warwick Wanderers Under 7s, believes the children benefit enormously.

He said: “For the last week or two they’ve been really excited, looking forward to it. They come down as a group, wearing their Warwick Wanderers tops with pride. For a lot of them, it’s their first chance to see a live game of professional football. It gives them the full-match experience.”