Bury FC’s Gigg Lane venue should have ushered in a new football league season in August. Instead, the ground stood vacant and silent. 133 years of history down the drain. Why? Incredibly inept financial ‘management’ at a club which now leaves a community in mourning.
A potential last-minute takeover deal fell through after the ironically-named C&N Sporting Risk decided Bury was too much of a risk to take on.
How did it get to this? Bury’s manager Steve Dale has failed to satisfy the English Football League (EFL) that he has the means to pay wages owed to the players from last season. Players who won the club promotion from last season’s League Two up to League One, as well as the then-manager Ryan Lowe, are still awaiting salary payments dating back to February this year. Not only could Dale not show that he would be able to pay those wages but the EFL also felt he could not fund the club for the season ahead.
Dale purchased the club, along with its debts, for just £1 back in December 2018 – taking over from property developer Stewart Day.
Impressively, despite the club’s problems behind the scenes, the team went on to secure promotion under what must have been very trying circumstances. However, as reported in The Guardian in August, many office staff complained of “abysmal treatment”. Several were even dismissed from their roles by a letter informing them that the club was insolvent.
In an unprecedented move, the EFL suspended Bury’s opening two league games of the season. Also, a deadline of August 27th was put in place for the club to find a new buyer. That was when C&N Sporting Risk came into the picture. Unfortunately, the company announced they would not be going ahead with the purchase of Bury FC just half an hour before the deadline.
It is the first time since 1992 that a club has had to drop out of the EFL – when Maidstone was liquidated.
After it was confirmed that the EFL was kicking Bury FC out of league football, the club released a very pointed statement:
Everyone connected with Bury Football Club were shocked and disappointed with the EFL’s decision to expel this wonderful, historic, community-driven Club from the Football league. This decision was taken despite a credible new bidder being made aware to them before Tuesday’s 5pm deadline.
The club took a very direct shot at the EFL, claiming that another potential buyer had been found. In the statement, they went on the offensive, trying to leave no doubt that no blame can lie at the club’s – or Steve Dale’s – door.
The statement continued:
Given this, all staff, players and no doubt fans of Bury Football Club are utterly devastated that despite the new bid to buy the Club, the EFL have informed us that they will not be rescinding their decision.
This is something we are struggling to comprehend as the new bidder has proven significant funds to the EFL, funds to allow them to take over, run and secure the long-term future of Bury Football Club. Everyone at the Club believed that such were the capabilities of the potential new owner, this would’ve started a brand new era for the Club, seeing it go from strength to strength.
The extreme lack of communication from the EFL has left all involved with Bury Football Club astonished and in dismay.
Stewart Day and Steve Dale will go down in history as the last two owners of the original Bury FC – a club which had played an integral part in its community since it was formed in 1885. Through serious financial mismanagement, Day and Dale have driven the club into the ground.
How could it have been prevented? The Telegraph reported that it was at 11:04pm on Tuesday (August 27th) that Bury’s membership of the EFL was officially rescinded. This, despite a reported three late “expressions of interest”.
“Today is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the League’s recent history,” said Debbie Jevans, who chairs the EFL board. Jevans added that the situation “had been forced upon us” and said that the league “simply cannot allow this unacceptable situation to continue”.
What about the EFL’s ‘fit and proper person’ test? Steve Dale’s takeover from Stewart Day for £1 was authorised by the EFL “despite his failure to comply with rules on establishing his means to sustain the club”, according to The Guardian.
Yet, now the EFL has decided to make an example of the Bury FC to ward off any potential problems at another club in the future. But who will hold the EFL to account? Why have rules and regulations if you’re not going to enforce them? A club has been destroyed by a combination of greed and an inept governing body.