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What next for Bury Football Club?

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Bury FC expelled from the EFL

The fate that Bury Football Club have suffered this week is a national travesty.

The Shakers have been expelled from the EFL, who have stated that they will not reverse their decision despite gallant late appeals.

Late appeals

James Frith, the Labour MP for Bury North, will ‘up the ante’ with Parliamentary and legal action, including calls for enquiries into the financial irregularities driven by Stewart Day and then Steven Dale that caused the club’s current mess.

There is, one hopes, a possibility that the EFL will see that they have made an error of judgement – that they should re-instate Bury into the league to give the club a chance to complete a takeover.

C&N Sporting Risk deal fell through

Beforehand, the problem was that chairman Dale was rejecting numerous offers to drive the price up for himself.

Then, an analytics company called C&N Sporting Risk were able to agree in principle a price with Dale, only for the deal to fall through following their due diligence.

Because C&N Sporting Risk pulled out very close to the deadline, because the EFL only extended their previous deadline of 11:59 on Friday 23rd August by one working day with the bank holiday weekend and because Dale had not been considering other offers during the negotiations with C&N, too much had to happen in too short a timeframe for Bury to find an alternative solution.

Inconsistency from EFL?

There were, however, several interested parties very close to the final deadline – these included an international consortium that was reportedly ready to pay up to £7 million to complete a takeover and provide proof of funding.

The EFL were not willing to treat that potential buyer as credible and thus maintained the deadline for Bury, yet gave Bolton Wanderers – in a very similar situation – another two weeks to resolve the issue, which they have done successfully.

Of course, it is absolutely wonderful news that Bolton still have a club and many at Bury have been gracious enough to say as much, but one cannot help but wonder about consistency.

Whether the situation can be resolved now, depends on whether Debbie Jevans and the EFL have the humility to acknowledge that they might have made a mistake – and be willing to overturn it.

In an ideal world, that will happen – but some Bury fans have begun looking at alternative scenarios.

Bury Gigg Lane
Gigg Lane

The other options

There are reports that the club, in its current guise, could move into the North-West Counties League Premier Division – the ninth-tier - for the 2020-21 campaign.

Were that to happen, we could see Bury getting huge away attendances due to the higher number of local games: the longest away trips could be Hanley Town and Whitchurch Alport, barely further away from Gigg Lane than Crewe.

There might be concerns about this from a police perspective, because there will be scores of fans wanting, for example, to go to Avro FC, less than a half-hour drive from Bury – but the Whitebank Stadium, similarly to many others at that level, can only hold 1,500, so the situation may require a certain amount of crowd control.

Although, if Bury were to restart higher up the pyramid in the National League or National League North, that would necessitate a structural re-think involving changes to the number of teams in each division, or changing the number of promotion/relegation places that might open up a can of worms.

Future for Bury

One thing is for certain: there will be a future for Bury.

Whether that be in their current guise or as a phoenix club, whether they next play in League One, League Two or any non-league division, whether they gain fresh investment, still have Steve Dale as chairman or even if a group of fans club together – the spirit of that football club is too strong, it’s history too great, to disappear completely.

In certain respects, this next chapter for the club might be almost appealing for supporters of a romantic persuasion – in worst case scenario, the idea of short journeys to visit friendly and welcoming clubs, paying no more than £10 for tickets whilst re-connecting the club with it’s core, fan-led principles might not sound too bad.

This has been a horrible time for Bury – but the darkest hour is always just before the dawn. Hope will come again.